Astro photography

Star Trails and Fireflies

Star Trails and Fireflies, June 22, 2009. Late on this early summer evening, just as the twilight was fading from the north-western sky, I set up my camera at the edge of a field next to my home, and started a time-lapse sequence that lasted just over an hour. This is firefly season where I live, and the photograph shows the activity that took place during the hour. The precise pattern of the star motion makes a contrasting background for the random flashes of the perching and flying fireflies.

Most of the fireflies here (greenish-yellow) are Photuris sp. along with flickering orange Pyractomena sp.

For a couple of weeks each summer the fireflies restrict my astro photography because their flashes make streaks on the images. I don't mind — they are such amazing creatures, and it's almost magical to see the landscape sparkling with light at midnight.

This photograph was featured on the Astronomy Magazine home page, as a National Geographic Photo of the Day, and a detail section was published in the journal Science. It was also published worldwide by the Associated Press, and it appears at the end of a TED Talk by biologist, Sara Lewis.

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Steve Irvine
484068 Cape Road
Georgian Bluffs, Ontario
Canada N0H 2T0
(519) 534 2175