Under the stars

Photographer Matt Dieterich displays the image used on the Mount Rainier National Park stamp.

Matt Dieterich will never forget the night he photographed the spectacular star trail shown on the Postal Service’s upcoming Mount Rainier National Park stamp.

Dieterich was in the park last June when he noticed a pink aurora spreading through the sky. He drove down to Mount Rainier’s Reflection Lake to capture it with his camera.

“The location was perfect,” Dieterich recalled. “It contained a view of Mount Rainier and water for reflections.”

To create the image, Dieterich took 200 photos during a 2-hour window.

Since the Earth rotates, each 8-second exposure shows stars at slightly different locations. When the photos are combined into a single image, the stars create a circular pattern around the North Star, which is just outside the view.

A 30-second video on Dieterich’s website shows the time lapse.

The stamp, one of 16 on the National Parks sheet, will be released June 2

If others want to capture star trails, Dieterich recommends using a digital single lens reflex camera and a wide angle lens, tripod and shutter release cable.

“So what are you waiting for?” he said. “Grab your gear and get out under the stars.