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Star Trails Photography - Earth is SPINNING!

Updated: May 19, 2023

This post regroups our favorite images of Star Trails that we have taken over the years since starting Astrophotography. You will find our most recent attempts at the top, and can scroll down to see our previous images. We will include the equipment used, the location, and other useful information for each picture.


Star Trails astrophotography

Want to learn all about this? Season 3 of the Galactic Course covers Star Trails & Time-Lapses!


Star Trails images are achievable by taking long exposure shots of any part of the sky for several hours, then combining all the frames into one. Most star trail pictures show either Polaris (the north star) or Sigma Octantis (the closest star to the south pole) in the field of view. Pointing your camera towards the celestial pole when shooting star trails will give you beautiful round trails around a central focal point.


The good thing about star trails is that, unlike the bright Summer Milky Way band, star trails can be shot at any time throughout the year!



 

Ghost of Night Time 👻🕰

June 2021

Ghost Town, NV


Dalia and I went to a ghost town near Death Valley for some night pics and a nice relaxing night sleeping in the Jeep. The sky was incredible and the night was warm and very pleasant.


Here is a star Trail picture we took of a piece of art in the ghost town. Right behind this ghost is Polaris (the North Star) and as you can see, every other star rotates around it. The total exposure time spent on this was about 2 hours.


Star Trails Rhyolite ghost

GEAR USED:

Camera: Canon Ra

Intervalometer: Newwer Intervalometer

Processing: Lightroom and Photoshop

ACQUISITION DETAILS:

Total Exposure Time: 2 hours

ISO: 6400



And below is a timelapse we made out of all the still frames acquired. With a "trailing" effect added, you can nicely see how each star rotates around Polaris. See 4K version of this video on our Flickr page.


You can easily turn any star trail data into these types of time-lapses. We cover how to do this and much more in Season 3 of the Galactic Course.



 

The Last Supper 🍔🍻


Also from the same town, we captured this image of star trails going behind the several ghosts making up "The Last Supper" art installation. Even though Polaris wasn't in the field of view, it still looks nice from this angle!


Star Trails with ghosts

 

Death Valley Star Trails

April 2021

Death Valley, CA


I went on an impromptu solo weekend to Death Valley and walked about 30 minutes deep into the salt flats of Badwater Basin. There were a dozen photographers taking images of the sunset so I walked passed them and went further. They all left right after sunset.


Badwater Basin is famous for being the lowest point in America, 282 feet below sea level! The Salt Flats are huge and cover about 200 square miles.


I stopped walking, and shot some foreground pictures towards the North. It got dark and scary real quick down there, Imagine being in the middle of a huge dry lake with your heavy camera bags and knowing you are at least 30 minutes away from the parking lot 😅 Anyway I only had one night in Death Valley and really wanted to do some deep space with the scope I brought so I left shortly after dark and headed to a different location to set up my equipment and sleep.

The star trails you see in this image were taken on a different night, but I made sure that the position of the north star was scientifically accurate and belonged exactly where it is in this picture.


This is one of my favorite pictures so far, and prints are occasionally available on our Print Store!

Star Trails from Death Valley National Park

GEAR USED:

Camera: Canon Ra

Intervalometer: Newwer Intervalometer

Processing: Lightroom and Photoshop

ACQUISITION DETAILS:

Total Exposure Time: 30 seconds for the foreground, 2 hours for sky

ISO: 6400


 

Star Trails rising over Mount Charleston, NV

February 2021

Nevada Desert, NV


While filming Episode 15 of Galactic Hunter about imaging Thor's Helmet, we took several time-lapses including one where stars can be seen rising from behind a snowy mountain.


Later at home, I decided to turn this timelapse into a star trail image! This is pretty cool because it doesn’t require any extra work, all you have to do is throw all the frames into a program like StarStax and it does the job for you.


This image shows Mount Charleston covered in snow! 🏔 Usually, there is a little bit of snow on top of that mountain each year, but the Winter of 2020 dropped way more snow than usual which is rare for Las Vegas. 🎰


I really want to take the dirt road leading all the way to that mountain one day with the Jeep just to see what I’ll find around there.


Star Trails behind Mount Charleston NV

GEAR USED:

Camera: Canon Ra

Intervalometer: Newwer Intervalometer

Processing: Lightroom and Photoshop

ACQUISITION DETAILS:

Total Exposure Time: 3 hours

ISO: 6400


 

Star Trails while Deep Sky Imaging with a Telescope

January 2019

Nevada Desert, NV


In Episode 12 of Galactic Hunter, we shot both M97 (The Owl Nebula) and M108 (The Surfboard Galaxy) in the same field of view using our monochrome camera and reflector telescope.

These targets are located to the North, not that far from Polaris. We were taking a timelapse of the telescope imaging all night, and decided to turn that timelapse into a nice star trails image.


In it, you can see the telescope in the foreground, with star trails in the background sky all rotating around Polaris.


Star Trails behind telescope

GEAR USED:

Intervalometer: Newwer Intervalometer

Processing: Lightroom

ACQUISITION DETAILS:

Total Exposure Time: 3 hours

ISO: 3200


 

Make sure to join the Galactic Course before season 3 is released to get the lowest price! Season 1 and 2 are already out and have some awesome reviews! They cover everything about deep sky imaging with a telescope, as well as Milky Way photography! Season 3 will cover Star Trails and Timelapses!


Want to learn all aspects of astrophotography in the most efficient way possible?

The Galactic Course includes a LIFETIME membership that gives you unlimited access to all current and upcoming astrophotography content. Step into an ever-growing realm of knowledge and learn at your own pace. Make life-long friends and connections with other members, and get tips from instructors that truly care about your journey and progress under the night sky.



 

Dizzy & Deadly

August 2016

Nevada Ghost Town, NV


On the night of August 12th, 2016, my friend and I went to a ghost town to see the Perseid Meteor Shower. We saw hundreds. Unfortunately, my camera was pointed in the worst direction ever at the specific time we were there. Out of the hundreds of meteors we saw, it only captured 2 (top of the image). Because of that, I decided to turn all my data into Star Trails instead, so it wouldn't be all garbage. You can tell where Polaris, the North Star is (not in the frame but to the left).


I love this foreground, it is a crashed plane that was used as a prop for a movie set. They originally were supposed to get rid of it after the filming was over, but it stayed there and looks very cool!

Star Trails with plane crashed

GEAR USED:

Camera: Canon T3i

Lens: Canon stock lens

Intervalometer: Newwer Intervalometer

Processing: Pixinsight

ACQUISITION DETAILS:

Total Exposure Time: 30 seconds

ISO: 800


 

This post is regularly updated with our new images of Star Trails, ranked chronologically with the newest ones on top.


Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to stay up to date with our work!


Clear Skies,

Galactic Hunter




 

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