Capturing the Night Sky Using an Equatorial Tracker

Published: Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Recorded Wednesday, January 5th

Rick Whitacre, Instructor


Have you ever wondered how to capture an image of a night time landscape that also shows the stars? Night landscapes prefer long exposures, but because the Earth rotates at about 1,670 km/hr, a long exposure will make the stars appear streaky on a normal tripod. That’s why traditional astrophotographers use Equatorial (EQ) Trackers. EQ Trackers counteract the rotation of the Earth on its axis in order to "freeze" the stars, planets, and the Moon to allow for longer, lower noise exposures. 

You don’t have to be a dedicated astrophotographer to use an EQ tracker. Several small and relatively inexpensive EQ Trackers have entered the market and have become very popular. I have owned an EQ Tracker for about 5 years and have bumbled my way into using it fairly efficiently. I would love to share what I have learned with you, whether you have been thinking of getting one, are just curious, or have an EQ tracker that you need help using. I hope that my experience will help flatten the learning curve and get you up to speed much more quickly than it took me to get started.


By the end of the workshop, you will know:

  • What an Equatorial (EQ) tracker is and how it works
  • How an EQ tracker can help with astro, astro-landscape, deep space, and eclipse photography
  • Which low-cost trackers are available and the pros and cons of each
  • Tips and tricks for making EQ trackers more practical and useful
  • How (through hands-on experience) to set up and use an EQ tracker

About the Instructor

Rick Whitacre is a former President of the Los Gatos - Saratoga Camera Club and a member of Maverick Photographers, a group of documentary and fine art photographers in the Bay Area. His passion is to create images that grab the viewer’s eye and compel them to explore the photographs in more detail. Recently, his work has expanded to include night and star photography to help convey the expanse and magnitude of our natural world. See:

Images Taken Using an EQ Tracker

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