South Georgia is an ideal location for astrophotography as the nearest light pollution is over 800 miles away. On a clear winters night with the sun well below the horizon the quantity of stars is simply breath taking. Unfortunately a cloudless South Georgian night is a rarity.
Star trail images are created by taking long exposure photographs of the night sky. As the earth turns the stars appear to move creating streaks of light across image. These lines of light appear as circles around the celestial poles, the points in the sky that correspond with the South or North pole and about which the earth spins on its axis.
In the North the celestial pole is easily identifiable as the Pole Star. In the Southern hemisphere the closest star to the celestial pole is the constellation of Sigma Octanis. As this constellation can not be easily seen the celestial pole is located from the brighter Southern Cross (Crux) and its two "pointer" stars α Centauri and β Centauri.
These images were collected over 6 months and created by pointing the camera towards the South celestial pole and taking long exposure photographs.
Star Trails over the Harker Glacier (65p stamp)
The Harker Glacier, named after the British geologist Alfred Harker, lies next to the Hamberg Glacier at the end of Moraine Fjord. This deep Fjord separates the Thatcher Peninsula, home to Grytviken and King Edward Point, and the Greene Peninsula.
The stamp image was taken on 8th June 2011 between 9pm and 11pm on a bright moonlight night. It is a series of 177 x 30 second exposures compiled to create one long exposure of one hour, twenty eight minutes and 30 seconds. At the time the image was taken the temperature was -10 degrees Celsius and the camera battery though fully charged did not last long.
Technical: Canon 5D MKII. 17-40 L series lens f4. ISO 1600, f5.6, exp 30 sec x 177, focal length 17mm.
Star Trails over Maiviken Hut (75p stamp)
Maiviken is about 6km away from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) research station at King Edward Point. The area is home to a large number of fur seals and gentoo penguins, which are regularly monitored by BAS scientists. The hut at Maiviken was built in the 1970s and is used as a refuge in which scientists can stay overnight or simply stop for a cup of tea. Over the years the hut has been repaired many times.
The stamp image was taken on 23rd August 2011 between 10pm and midnight. It is a series of 244 x 30 second exposures compiled to create one long exposure of 2 hours and 2 minutes. There was still deep snow so the skis resting on the outside of the hut were used to get there.
Technical: Canon 5D MKII. 17-40 L series lens f4. ISO 2500, f5, exp 30 sec x 244, focal length 17mm.
Star Trails over the Albatros and the Dias (£1 stamp)
The wrecks of the old whaling ships, the Albatros and the Dias sit on the shore at Grytviken. The Albatros was built in 1921 in Norway as part of a plan to modernize Grytviken. The Albatros was larger, more powerful and had a greater speed and range than its predecessors. She worked around South Georgia and for a couple of years in the Weddell Sea. In 1935 she became a full-time sealer until Grytviken closed in 1964. She later sank at her moorings alongside Dias.
Built in Hull in 1906 and originally called Viola, the Dias started life as a steam trawler in the North Sea. In World War I she took part in patrol duties in the North Sea and helped to sink two U-boats. After the war she was sold to Norwegian owners and after initially being used as a trawler was converted to a whale catcher. She arrived in Grytviken in 1927, where she was employed as a sealer and boat for towing whale carcasses until 1964.
The stamp image was taken on 7th December between 11pm and 1am. It is a series of 284 x 30 second exposures compiled to create one long exposure of 2 hour and twenty two minutes. As the photo was taken in the Antarctic summer there is much more light on the horizon than in the previous images.
Canon 5D MKII. 17-40 L series lens f4. ISO 800, f5.6, exp 30 sec x 284, focal length 17mm.
Star Trails behind Hope Point (£1.20 stamp)
The memorial cross at Hope Point was erected by the officers and crew of the Quest in 1922 in memory of Sir Ernest Shackleton after he died on board the Quest in Cumberland Bay. Hope Point is a small hill that was chosen for its position looking out on Cumberland Bay and Grytviken, places that Shackleton regarded as the “gateway to the Antarctic”.
The Hope Point image was taken on 7th October 2010 between 10pm and midnight. It is a series of 212 x 30 second exposures compiled to create one long exposure of one hour and thirty-six minutes. It was taken on a very windy bright moonlight night. The tripod legs were splayed fully and weighted down with snow but despite this on close inspection small wobbles in the star trails can seen!
Technical: Canon 5D MKII. 17-40 L series lens f4. ISO 1250, f8, 212 x 30 seconds, focal length 17mm.
Photos and Text: Samantha Crimmin.
Photography: Samantha Crimmin
Printer Cartor Security Printing
Process Stochastic lithography
Perforation 13 ¼ x 13 ½ per 2cms
Stamp size 42 x 28mm
Sheet Layout 50 (2 x 25)
Release date 4 June, 2013
Production Co-ordination Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd