Stargazing For Dummies
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At night you can photograph star trails. When you keep the shutter open for 10 minutes or longer, the rotation of the earth becomes apparent in your image, and the stars are rendered as long trails. The motion is readily apparent if you’re photographing a landscape with no ambient light from civilization.

To capture a compelling photograph of star trails requires an exposure that is longer than 30 minutes, and your camera must be mounted on a tripod.

The settings for photographing star trails depend on how bright the moon is. This type of photography will wreak havoc with your battery and can cause harm to your camera if the battery is exhausted during the exposure.

When photographing star trails, consider making several 30-minute exposures and blending them in an application like Photoshop.

When you change batteries, make sure you don’t move the tripod or change any of the camera settings or lens focal length. In other words, be very careful when changing batteries if you’re going to stitch several shots together.

When you photograph star trails, you spend a lot of time waiting, but when you get it right, the results are well worth standing around while your camera captures the image.

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Steve Owens is a freelance science writer and presenter with a passion for astronomy. He has been the recipient of the Campaign for Dark Skies Award for dark sky preservation, and he was nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award for public science engagement.

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