Southern Cross star trails around the AAT dome
AAO image reference MISC 36.     « Previous || Next »

Antares and Jupiter, defocused trails
Image and text © 1985-2002, Australian Astronomical Observatory, Photograph by David Malin.
Roll your mouse over the picture to see the Southern Cross

Several attempts were made to photograph this scene, which involved leaving a film camera outside all night with its shutter open. Many factors had to be right to obtain a 'perfect' image, whatever that may be. The night had to be moonless and cloud free. The location had to produce an interesting composition, which limits the possiblities, and the night had to be dry, so no dew formed on the camera lens. An unexpected hazard were kagaroos, who were curious about the new three-legged presence on the mountain (my tripod) and sometimes nudged it during the exposure. Siding Spring Mountain is deserted at night, apart from astronomers, so camera thieves were not a problem. However, some astronomers drive cars, and here the camera was not far enough away from the road to avoid passing lights, so not perfect.

Probably the most satisfactory of the many attempts attempts, and the longest exposure (10.5 hours) is here. The image above had an exposure of about eight hours. It was made in mid-February, at the end of the southern summer, and the Southern Cross appears to be lying on its side in the early evening at that time of the year. The other image, mentioned above was taken in June or July when the nights are longer. The Southern Cross is high in the sky in the early evening during the southern winter, and is off the top of the image.

More about the measurement of time and star trail photography is here.

Other star-trail images
AAT 5.     Star trails setting behind the AAT
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 8.   Aurorae Australis
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 16. Southern Cross and Pointers, star colours - step-focus technique, long 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.
MISC 23  Southern Cross and Pointers, star colours - step-focus technique, short trails

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Updated by David Malin, 2012, March 17