by ʇolɐǝz ǝɥʇ qoq

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I see a lot of pictures with those "line" effects in the sky and I'm wondering how this technique is called (so I can google how it's done).

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

Those are usually called "star trails", and they come about as a result of leaving the camera's shutter open for an extended period of time. The center of the circle will be either the north or south pole, depending on which hemisphere you are in.

As often as not, though, the sky with star trails is captured separately from the foreground, and later swapped into the foreground scene. That would be cheating, except that light pollution often makes it impossible (in a practical sense) to capture the star trails and the foreground in the same exposure unless you are in a very remote area.

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thanks for the answer. can't believe that it's really done with an extremely long exposure. quite surprised. :) – gsharp Jul 16 '12 at 21:45
It's still cheating :-) (But, I know you know that). – Russell McMahon Jul 17 '12 at 3:09
In A True Image from False Kiva, Wally Pacholka managed to create a similar effect in a very remote location with no light pollution. – TRiG Oct 26 '12 at 23:35

This is called Star Trails and you do it by creating a long-exposure photograph of stars as they appear to rotate about the poles.

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