Astronomy Picture of the Day

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.

2009 April 13

Star Trails over the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope
Credit & Copyright: Jean-Charles Cuillandre (CFHT)

Explanation: Just fix your camera to a tripod and you too can make an image of graceful trails traced by the stars as planet Earth rotates on its axis. Making a time lapse video like that shown above may require more effort, though. Made on 2006 October 13 from Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA, this video nicely captured what you might see of the night sky if you could keep your brain from changing your perceived visual image about every hundredth of a second. Starting from a dark sky and point-like stars, the video demonstrates how stars appear to move over the night as the world turns. Near the center of the developing bull's-eye pattern is Polaris, the North Star. Visible in the left foreground is the 3.7-meter aperture Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT). The red glow that illuminated the CFHT dome near the beginning of the film was created by a car leaving the volcanic summit. The Moon rose about half way through the video and created a white glow that gradually illuminated most of the CFHT dome. The above remarkable time-lapse video was constructed from about 1,000 consecutive frames taken with a digital camera over nearly nine hours.

Tomorrow's picture: large pinwheel

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