Ever wonder how much ‘activity’ is going on all around us – In particular, above us? Well, Saturday night (02-24-18) I went to an event at Lake Louisa State Park here in Central Florida. By and large, it was a fun, educational astronomy event presented as a family happening. While the facilitators were very good and informative, I went with the soul intention of capturing some astro-photography as Lake Louisa State Park provides a minimal light pollution environment – one of the few areas in Central Florida capable of this.
The first photo (above) was pretty much a single, long exposure shot conveying or portraying a pretty, peaceful and fairly clear night sky with a fair amount of stars up there. As beautiful as that shot is, the one below depicts what’s really going on overhead during this event.
The picture below – taken at the exact same location as the first photo above – is what’s known as a ‘star trails’ shot. If you don’t know what a ‘star trails’ shot is, let me explain. In short, I set my camera to capture time lapse photos over a span (in this instance) of about an hour and fifteen minutes. Each of the 250 shots i captured had an exposure time of 15 seconds. Now as we all know, the earth is constantly rotating. The fact the camera had the shutter opened for fifteen seconds per shots times 250 shots, what happens is the camera a actually picks up the earth’s rotation while shooting pictures of the stars. The stars don’t move in these shots, but the earth does. The end result is the stars look like they’re streaking across the night time sky but in reality, the camera is picking up the earth moving against the stationary stars. Once all the photos are loaded into the computer, I use specific software to ‘morph’ all the 250 shots into one single shot. This one single shot is what you’re looking at below. Make sense? I hope so :).
Oh and by the way, what might look like a colored sort of trails going against the grain or opposite direction of the majority of the star trails in the final photo is / are actually airplanes, helicopters or maybe even a shooting star passing by. And the blurry coloration in the lower right corner of the photo are a few of the attendees of the event.
So next time you’re out enjoying the beauty and peace of a clear night sky, this ‘star trails’ photo show what’s really going on all around you and over your head.
Peace – Mike T