Riding Light is a 45-minute short film/animation that attempts to recreate what it would be like to hitch a ride on the back of a photon and travel from the core of the sun to beyond the orbit of Jupiter. Be prepared to feel completely insignificant.
All of humanity has a close up in the video for, oh, about 2 seconds, until the photon blasts past the moon’s orbit and onto Mars. The upper left corner keeps track of distance traveled and time elapsed since you’ve been vomited from the sun’s core and the upper right has a handy countdown to your next planetary encounter. So you can skip to the brief flybys if you don’t have 45 minutes to dedicate to a quick trot through out solar system. None of this is visually based in science, such as how we would even perceive light and time if we were travelling at the same speed, but the film does use accurate distances and speeds to convey how utterly massive our solar system really is.
This romp through space was pieced together by animator Alphonse Swinehart, who came up with the idea after poring over astronomy books. I can’t decide if I’m more in awe at the fact that the speed of light can actually feel slow or just depressed after realising that honestly everything we do on this mud ball planet is completely pointless and space is an endless vacuum of swirling galaxies ready to swallow us whole. [Vimeo/Alphonse Swinehart]