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: With a coastline which measures 13,676 kilometers, Greece has the largest coastline in Europe and the eleventh largest in the world. As a result, the large number of lighthouses which characterize the extended greek coastline should come as no surprise and which number 120 traditional lighthouses with an average age of about two hundred years whereas the total number exceeds 1300 when various types of (modern) lighthouses are considered. The lighthouse at Cape Melagavi (Φάρος Μελαγκάβι) lies 150 kilometers west of Athens and on the eastern side of the Corinthian Gulf coastline as one approaches Loutraki. It first started operation in 1897 and is dominated by a 13-meter tall stone tower with thickness 0.7 meters and which includes a lit dome. The rotating light from the dome is characterized with a period of 10 seconds with visibility reaching 19 nautical miles.

Image Details
Star Trails Over the Lighthouse Melagavi
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

Jul 18-19, 2015
22:40 - 02:47 UT+3

Cape Melagavi,
Lake Vouliagmeni,
Loutraki, Greece

Canon EOS 5D Mk I
Canon EOS EF 15mm / f2.8 USM
      @ f4.0

235 min (705 x 20 sec) (RGB)
004 min (012 x 20 sec) (Dark)
ISO 400
JPG Fine Image Format
4368x2912 Image Size
Continuous Servo Mode

Startrails V2.3
Photoshop CS5

Dark Frame Reduction
Layers and Lighten
Unsharp Masking
JPG Compression