Polaris Star Trail in Big Bend National Park

photo by Costa1973 on Flickr

Polaris Star Trail in Big Bend National Park — Fotopedia
Taken from Chisos Basin campground. 340 25" shots stacked in StarStaX.
Wikipedia Article
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Earth's rotation

Earth's rotation is the rotation of the solid Earth around its own axis. The Earth rotates from the west towards the east. As viewed from the North Star or polestar Polaris, the Earth turns counter-clockwise.

The North Pole, also known as the Geographic North Pole or Terrestrial North Pole, is the point in the Northern Hemisphere where the Earth's axis of rotation meets its surface. This point is distinct from the Earth's North Magnetic Pole. The South Pole is the other point where the Earth's axis of rotation intersects its surface, in Antarctica.

The Earth rotates once in about 24 hours with respect to the sun and once every 23 hours 56 minutes and 4 seconds with respect to the stars (see below). Earth's rotation is slowing slightly with time; thus, a day was shorter in the past. This is due to the tidal effects the Moon has on Earth's rotation. Atomic clocks show that a modern day is longer by about 1.7 milliseconds than a century ago, slowly increasing the rate at which UTC is adjusted by leap seconds.

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The sky (or celestial dome) is everything that lies a certain distance above the surface of the Earth, including the atmosphere and outer space. In the field of astronomy, the sky is also called the celestial sphere. This is an imaginary dome where the sun, stars, planets, and the moon are seen to be traveling. The celestial sphere is conventionally divided into regions called constellations. Usually, the term sky is used from the point of view of the Earth's surface; however, the exact meaning of the term can vary. For example, in some cases the sky is defined as only the denser portions of the atmosphere.

During daylight, the sky appears to be blue because air scatters blue sunlight more than it scatters red. At night, the sky appears to be a mostly dark surface or region scattered with stars. During the day, the Sun can be seen in the sky, unless obscured by clouds. In the night sky (and to some extent during the day) the moon, planets and stars are visible in the sky. Some of the natural phenomena seen in the sky are clouds, rainbows, and aurorae. Lightning and precipitation can also be seen in the sky during storms. Birds, insects, aircraft, and kites are often considered to fly in the sky. Due to human activities, smog during the day and light pollution during the night are often seen above large cities.

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Star Trail Photography

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Star trail

A star trail is a type of photograph that utilizes long-exposure times to capture the apparent motion of stars in the night sky due to the rotation of the Earth. A star trail photograph shows individual stars as streaks across the image, with longer exposures resulting in longer streaks. Typical exposure times for a star trail range from 15 minutes to several hours, requiring a 'bulb' setting on the camera to open the shutter for a longer period than is normal.

Star trails have been used by professional astronomers to measure the quality of observing locations for major telescopes.

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Long-exposure photography

Long-exposure photography or time-exposure photography involves using a long-duration shutter speed to sharply capture the stationary elements of images while blurring, smearing, or obscuring the moving elements. The paths of moving light sources become clearly visible.