How to Create Star Trails the Easy Way and with Free Software!

In this article I would like to talk about one of the simplest forms of astrophotography but also one of the most beautiful, star trails.

All you need to start taking star trails is a camera that can take thirty second exposures and take them repeatedly one after the other. Unlike other types of astrophotography there is no need to track the stars.

You will also need to set up your camera on a tripod and then leave it out for about thirty minutes or more.  This should allow you to make quite a nice star trail photo.

So, once you have your collection of photos you need to combine them together to make a star trail photo.

When I initially started this project the first thing, I looked at was the StarTrails software but I found that it produced inferior result compared to the StarStax software.

So, to get started in StarStax you need to drag your photos into the section that says Drop Photos Here.

Then you need to add your darks now the darks are going to include the noise of the camera the noise it is producing all the time and it is going to subtract those from the result which will mean you will have a clearer image.

So, to add the darks you need to go to this click the darks button at the top right of the screen and select the darks from your stored images.

Now I am going to choose gap filling and this is to fill in the gaps between the actual frames that you are taking so if there is a second gap somewhere it will ensure there is no gap in the star trail.

You also want to make sure you have the Subtract Dark Frames checkbox ticked to ensure the noise from your camera is excluded from the result.

Then you just click the start processing, this took three or four minutes to complete.

You may initially get a dirty image with trails here of aircraft and perhaps aircraft exhaust trails over there so what you need to do is to go through the actual images find the ones that have these artefacts in them and just untick them and then redo the processing.

Then open it in photo editing software like GIMP, which to fix any cosmetic issues.

If you would like to see the full run through of this process with each step explained with examples then please watch the episode below.

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