Astrophotography by Anthony Ayiomamitis

Star Trail Image Gallery

One of the most basic types of astrophotography and yet equally stunning is that involving star trails, particularly around the celestial poles or immediately due east or west. In addition to capturing the motion of stars around the north pole which are circumpolar and, hence, never rise or set, we also have the ability to capture seasonal constellations and stars in such photos, thus allowing for different opportunities during different seasons. Star trail photos also provide direct evidence that our planet rotates and does so at a rate of 15° per hour. Furthermore, by studying the arc for a particular star, especially as far away from the pole as possible, one can indirectly estimate the length of the (total) exposure which often ranges from seven to eight hours in duration and is totally dependent on the end of astronomical twilight one evening and its onset the following morning.

Many star photos are centered on Polaris, a double star system which represents our quickest means to locating the north celestial pole, for it lies less than 1.0° from it, and is an excellent starting point for the polar alignment of a telescope (and finding your way home if you are lost!). Due to the extended length of the typical exposures involved, the best film for such work is Kodak Elite Chrome (ISO 100) whose reciprocity failure is nearly zero or Fujichrome Velvia and Provia (ISO 50 and 100) emulsions with equally impressive curves! With respect to equipment, it is rudimentary, for a camera with extended exposure capability is required along with a firm tripod and shutter release and locking cable. It is also preferable that the camera used have a mechanical shutter so that battery consumption and power does not become an issue during mid-exposure. The final requirement is a location with dark skies - the darker the better so that the trails and their colouration will be as bright and contrasty as possible - with, preferably, an interesting foreground which can be used to enrich the final result.

Note: One of the many castles which characterize Greece's second largest island, Euvoia, is the medieval Rice Castle (Ριζόκαστρο) lying atop a hill 135 meters above ground level and to the southeast of Aliveri in central Euvoia. The castle was built by the Venetians in the 13th century AD and included a watch tower (at its center) and cistern. It is believed that underground tunnels once secretly connected the castle to the nearby village of Milaki approximately 1.5 kilometers away. The castle was in use up to the 19th century and during the Greek War of Independence when it was used to imprison and hold Turkish forces. The external perimeter of the castle is rectangular in shape measuring approximately 50 meters in length and 30 meters in width with a slight orientation to the north north-east.

Image Details
Star Trails Over Rice Castle (Ριζόκαστρο) (Euvoia)
Imaging Details
Proper Star Name:

Bayer Letter:
α Ursae Minoris

Tycho Catalog:
TYC 4628-237-1

SAO Catalog:
SAO 308

2290 +/- 282 x Sun

431 +/- 26 light yrs

RA / Dec:
02h 39m 31s /
+89° 17' 39"

B-V Color Index:
+0.570 mag

July 26-27, 2014
22:40 - 03:31 UT+3

Euvoia, Greece

Canon EOS 5D Mk I
Zenitar MC 16mm / f2.8 @ f4.0

288 min (144 x 120 sec) (RGB)
014 min (007 x 120 sec) (Dark)
ISO 400
JPG Fine Image Format
4368x2912 Image Size
Continuous Servo Mode

Startrails V1.1
Photoshop CS5

Dark Frame Reduction
Layers and Lighten
Unsharp Masking
JPG Compression