(NewScientist.com) The ground, the green and white lights hovering above the city of Nottingham probably resembled a distant storm, but from the window of a Cessna 172 aircraft, the shape of a man on horseback could clearly be seen galloping across the darkened troposphere.
This green night rider is the result of three years of hard graft by artist Dave Lynch, scientist Mike Nix and maker Aaron Nielsen, pushing the boundaries of art and science.
Together they pulled off a world first in June when they managed to project moving images directly onto clouds from an aircraft.
And while fighting the elements, failed kit and lack of cash in their quest to see the rider in the clouds – a work they call Project Nimbus – they've discovered the real importance of collaboration.
Project Nimbus used a laser version of the zoopraxiscope, a device designed by pioneering 19th-century photographer Eadweard Muybridge. So it was only right that they should also use his famous image a galloping horse, Horse in Motion, for the display.
"It was amazing," said Lynch, who spent hours searching for the "right type of cloud" as he shot the video and Nix operated the zoopraxiscope. "After an hour of flying and almost giving up, we had come up above a cloud layer into peaks, swirls and canyons stretching out like an ocean, giving us the conditions we never thought we would see," he says.