Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2006 September 15
Explanation: Fix your camera to a tripod, lock the shutter open, and you can make an image of star trails - graceful concentric arcs traced by the stars as planet Earth rotates on its axis. Of course, the length of the star trails will depend on the exposure time. While exposures lasting just five minutes produce a significant arc, in about 12 hours a given star would trace out half a circle. But in any long exposure, the background glow from light-polluted skies can build up to wash out the trails. Still, astronomer Josch Hambsch produced this stunning composite of star trails around the South Celestial Pole with an effective "all night" exposure time of almost 11 hours. To do it, he combined 128 consecutive five minute long digital exposures recorded in very dark night skies above Namibia. In his final image, the background glow on the right is due in part to the faint, arcing Milky Way.
Authors & editors:
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NASA Official: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: EUD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.