Chilean Earthquake, Wobbly Earth and Stars

By: Susie77 , 1:27 AM GMT on March 04, 2010

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TREMBLING EARTH, WOBBLY STARS: In Chile, astronomers know the ground is still shaking. They can see it in the stars. Colin Legg reports from the Andes east of Santiago: "I made this 88-second exposure on Sunday night, Feb. 28th, less than 24 hours after the big 8.8-magnitude quake. It records the movement of the Earth in the star trails during an earth tremor."



Earthquake experts say the shaking will continue for months. Indeed, in the days after the "Big One", Chilean seismometers have recorded more than 10 aftershocks in the range 6th to 7th magnitude, and more than 200 aftershocks stronger than 4th magnitude. A tip for astrophotographers: Keep your exposure times short. The stars over Chile could be wobbling for some time to come.

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3. shoreacres
1:10 PM GMT on March 04, 2010
Ah! I got the star trails and the bend, but the light was puzzling me. Thanks!
Member Since: October 4, 2004 Posts: 205 Comments: 15288
2. Susie77
2:35 AM GMT on March 04, 2010
The sky looks that way because to take night photos of dim objects like stars, you have to leave the shutter open longer than for day light pix. So the stars brighten up, but so does the sky. The star trails show that it's a time-lapse photo. The trails have a bend in them though, due to the continual quaking of the earth beneath the tripod, following the massive quake. A normal star trail night photo has straight streaks. Does this help? I'm sure some of our Wunderground aces could explain it better.
Member Since: April 14, 2002 Posts: 658 Comments: 596
1. shoreacres
1:38 AM GMT on March 04, 2010
OK. Dumb question number one. Why are the stars so clear when it appears to be daylight?

Beyond that, it certainly never occurred to me that the stars would seem to "shake" during a quake. What a bit of wonder in the midst of so much chaos.

Thanks for your previous entry about Venus, too. I spotted her maybe 4 nights ago, and thought, "What is THAT?" I thought it was a plane coming in to Houston Hobby, but it never moved. Just shimmered. That particular night it was brilliant, and so beautiful. I meant to look it up - but there you were, with the info!
Member Since: October 4, 2004 Posts: 205 Comments: 15288

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Sometimes I complain about the earthly weather, but mostly I like to post about astronomy and space events. Hope you enjoy the articles.

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