Coronavirus: Grounding of world's airlines allows photographers to capture stunning star trails

Clear sky at night, photographer's delight

Wednesday 01 April 2020 16:29 BST

With flights grounded around the world due to the coronavirus outbreak, photographers have been able to capture stunning images of star trails - the streaks of light left by stars as the earth rotates - without the usual interruption caused by air traffic.

Using long exposure times, the shifting positions of the stars relative to Earth's rotation can be captured to create a striking orbital effect.

One photographer who has been taking advantage the quiet of skies, Jawad Saleem, said: “I've travelled up and down the country in search of elusive clear skies. Isolation and lockdown meant I had to be creative in capturing my favourite subject.”

Ben Lockett, a student from Staffordshire, also noted how the new social conditions assisted him greatly in capturing pictures during his daily exercise slot.

“I usually end up spending a lot of time removing light trails caused by passing aircraft, but I only had one plane to remove from these images, instead of the usual 20-30!”

Photographer Andrew Whyte described the process of getting his shots despite the restrictions to travel imposed by the government.

“On Friday night I continued to observe the lockdown and didn’t even cross the threshold of my front door,” he said.

“At a time when there’d usually be a steady passage of friends and couples on their way home from the pub or taxis dropping off partygoers, I saw a single person out for a walk and no cars at all.

“I was further relieved when it came to processing the shot, because the sky was empty of planes.

“Light trails through the sky from air traffic can cause a major visual distraction in star trail images. Removing these trails is a time-consuming task so it’s a real bonus to not have to do it.”

Photographer Jon Mills believes the pictures reflect the extraordinary times the world is experiencing.

He said: “While those on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic are ever in our thoughts many of us will spend weeks or even months shut in our homes.

“The extraordinary nature of this situation is giving us a unique opportunity to enjoy the incredible beauty that is all around us.”


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