We know that the position of the stars above us will differ depending on where and when we look at them. But their movement is not just based on our vantage point – the stars themselves are moving as well.
Their movements are imperceptible to the human eye, the result of the gargantuan distance between us. In fact, we might not have known about these movements at all if it weren’t for Edward Halley (yes, the man the comet is named after), who discovered these subtle movements after comparing his own stellar catalogues to those from 2000 years prior.
Thankfully it doesn’t take millennia to ascertain their trajectories. In fact, the Gaia Mission, set up by the European Space Agency to create a 3D model of the galaxy, has only been up and running for two years, and they’ve already predicted how the sky is going to look in five million years. They’ve turned their data into the above video, which must surely be one of the longest periods covered in a time-lapse animation.
It’s just the beginning, too, as the ESA promises more data releases – and hopefully videos – in the near future.