Circumpolar Star Trails

The vortex in this colorful nightscape is a trail of stars circumpolar to the North Pole. Polaris, the North Star, is the bright star nearest to the polar axis of our planet. Due to Earth’s rotation, it takes 24 hours for Polaris to complete a full circle around the axis. Just by looking at the trail of Polaris in this image, it can be determined that the total combined exposure is more than 7 hours – a full night’s duration in the end of April, when the picture was taken.

Polaris is the most prominent star in the constellation Ursa Minor and outshines all other stars nearby, making it easier to identify – and to find North. Amateur astrophotographers try to spot it during early dusk, in order to properly align their equipment to the North (polar alignment).

While the aesthetic of the old vehicle – popular in the 70s and 80s in Yugoslavia – indicates the inevitable passage of time, it is interesting how some of the brightest stars made a noticeable reflection in the car’s windows. The strongest orange line is actually the reflection of Jupiter.

Data and processing: Goran Petrov
License: Creative Commons BY NC (free for non-commercial use, with attribution).
Click on the image to view full size.

Location: Petralica, Rankovce, Macedonia
Date: 2020-05-27 and 2020-05-28

Camera: Canon 5d mk II @ ISO 800
Lens: Samyang 14mm @ f/2.8
Mount: Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer (auto-guide and return after each exposure).

Exposures: 750 x 40s

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