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Star trails, with Southern Cross highlighted

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One of the many hazards in long exposure, night-time photography, are ornamental additions to the scene by ones 'friends', usually fellow astronomers. This exposure had been running for over two hours, when I went outside to check the weather and the camera. As I walk towards the camera, carefully hiding my flashlight, I noticed some lights being waved about on the dome catwalk. Light-painting was not what I wanted, so I closed the shutter.

When the film was processed, it was clear that I closed the shutter just in time — I have several star trails with words on them that prevent then being published. This image is the result of an exposure that ran for just over two hours in January, 1986, using Ektachrome 64 transparency film.

To the left of the picture I have highlighted the Southern Cross with the bright stars Alpha and Beta Centauri below it, as they were when the exposure ended.

Credit: David Malin

© Australian Astronomical Observatory