Wonders in the Sky Star Trails Back | Up | Next

Fixed Tripod - Wide Angle Lens
Star and Airplane Trails

On a fixed tripod, the stars will trail because of the Earth's rotation.

By aiming north, the motion of the stars around the celestial pole can be illustrated.

Here many short exposures are combined together to equal a long one.

Stars make arcs as they trail around Polaris and the north celestial pole in this 60-minute composite exposure on a fixed tripod.

Other lines and dots in the image are airplane trails and blinking airplane lights.

This image is a stack of 30 two-minute exposures shot with an 18-55mm lens at f/4 at ISO 100. It was made from a light-polluted suburb of a major metropolitan area.

The star trail lines are a little jiggly from where the camera moved slightly for unknown reasons during the exposure run. Flare from a street light can be seen at the bottom of the frame as well as some clouds on the horizon.

Star trail photos on a fixed tripod are very easy to take. The star colors and patterns can be quite pretty.

Image Data

  • Lens / Scope: Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 EF-S Zoom IS Lens
  • Focal Length: 18mm
  • F/stop: f/4
  • Exposure: Stack of 30 two-minute exposures (60 minutes total exposure)
  • Mount: Fixed tripod
  • Guiding: None
  • Camera: Unmodified Canon EOS 1000D (Digital Rebel XS)
  • Mode: 2816 x 1880 JPEG
  • ISO: 100
  • White Balance: Custom, set on sky background
  • In-Camera Noise Reduction: Off
  • Filter: None
  • Temp: 72F
  • Start Time: 10:45 p.m.
  • Date: June 26, 2009
  • Location: Voorhees, NJ
  • Calibration: None
  • Processing: Standard in-camera JPEG processing. Brightness and color adjusted in post processing.

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