The view to the north from Siding Spring
AAO image reference MISC 18.     « Previous || Next »

Image and text © 1990-2002, Australian Astronomical Observatory, Photograph by David Malin.

As the Earth rotates beneath them the stars appear to drift across the sky from east to west. From a dark site, a camera with its shutter left open will record the apparent movement of the stars. This is the view from Siding Spring Mountain, the site of the telescopes of Australian Astronomical Observatory. It is located about 30 degrees south of the equator, so the north celestial pole is 30 degrees below the northern horizon. Behind the camera the south celestial pole is about 30 degrees above the horizon. More about star trail photography is here.

The colour of the sky is as it appeared on the original photograph, made on colour film. Initially thought to be an artefact, the colour is probably real, since it has been seen recently on very deep images of the night sky taken with digital cameras. It may be related to the natural airglow of the night sky, which is essentially a blending of green and red emission lines from oxygen and nitrogen, with the red component perhaps enhanced by some unusual activity on the sun.

Other star-trail images
AAT 5.     Star trails southwest of the AAT dome
AAT 6.     Star trails around the south celestial pole
MISC 5.   Dawn and evening twilights reflected in the AAT dome
MISC 6.   Moonset into cloud over the Warrumbungle Range
MISC 7.   Star trails around the AAT dome, after Pinatubo sunset
MISC 11. Orion star colours, step-focus technique
MISC 12. Orion's belt rising over the lights of Coonabarabran
MISC 13. North celestial pole star trails
MISC 14. South celestial pole star trails
MISC 15. North and South celestial poles star trails
MISC 18. The view to the north from Siding Spring
MISC 19. Sunset 'star' trail, the track of the setting sun
MISC 22. The AAT dome from the Director's Cottage.

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Updated by David Malin, 2012, March 17