In the southern hemisphere here in Australia, we don’t have a bright star like Polaris that shines brightly in the northern hemisphere. All we have here to align our telescopes is a small 5th magnitude star called Sigma Octans…which can be very hard to find in the suburbs!
To take a picture of a beautiful startrail you could use this method. First of all attach your DSLR camera onto a tripod and use a wide field lens and fully open up the aperture, then set your setting to (B) bulb so you can have complete control on how long you want the exposure to take. Use a cable release lead to start the exposure and when you are finished gently close it.
Now where do you point the camera? Use a compass and face south…where do you point the camera to capture the celestial pole? Find out your latitude and use that to measure up the sky from your horizon and point the camera in that direction eg: I live at 28degrees south so I roughly measure 28 degrees up from the horizon looking directly south, Once you take a few test shots you will see that you’ll have the pole somewhere in the frame.
Now this is important…do some test shots first, bump up the ISO to 1600 or more and do a shot for a few minutes, you will start to see the rotation of the stars and also if you have good focus…don’t forget to set the ISO back down to ISO400 or 200. (Also I always let the camera do its own dark frame in the camera, which will shut down and take the same time as the exposure…so watch out for your battery life)
Image taken with a Canon DSLR camera and an 18-55mm lens set at 18mm, exposure time was for 50 minutes with ISO 400 and aperture f3.5.
Have fun and enjoy taking some wonderful startrails, try and do it in the darkest sky possible and include some trees or rustic buildings, anything you like so you can include the earth in the image :-)