How to remove aircraft running lights from nightscape frames?

Mocha Pro Adobe Plugin for Premiere Pro CC 2019

I want to track and remove the distracting aircraft running lights from my nightscape image frames. The clip is a timelapse generated from a series of frames taken with a Canon 5D Mk III. The individual frames are 25 second exposures taken on a 30 second interval.
I’ve read numerous posts in various forums for removing objects, but as newbie, I’m more than a little lost on the steps. Based on what I’ve seen it seems this should be possible.
I recognize this is not a trivial task: Not only does the track of running light move from frame to frame, but the background stars are also moving from frame to frame.

I have tried editing the images in Camera Raw prior to import, but even with the most painstaking edits, the result is a discernable ripple in the final video clip. My hope is that I can achieve frames with the running lights removed and the stars appropriately replaced in the background.
I have attached png images illustrating the issue.

Mocha Pro Adobe Plugin for Premiere Pro CC 2019
Version 6.1.2 build 41.g9c944d33af77
Build Date Aug 9 2019

Windows 10 Pro 64-bit, version 1809, OS Build 17763.615

Intel i7-7820X 3.60GHz

The most basic way to do this would be:

  1. Draw a loosish mask around the offending lights. Given the straight line, a very thin rectangle would do
  2. Animate the rectangle to cover the lights over the length of the shot. You do not need to track these.
  3. Make a large shape to track the background. I suggest the dustiest part of the milky way as it has the most texture
  4. Drag the new layer BELOW the lights layer
  5. Set “Link to track” to “None”
  6. Turn on perspective in the motion parameters
  7. Track forwards
  8. Once the track is done, turn on überkey and move the shape to cover the length of the shot underneath the path of the lights
  9. Select the top layer and try removing forwards

Since this is a timelapse, you may need to adjust the following parameters in the remove module:

  • Illumination modelling. Try linear first if the lighting in the remove looks incorrect
  • Blend: Give the size of the frame, try a blend of about 30

If the remove still looks like it has some edge issues, select the top layer and set an edge width to feather off the remove a bit. Do this with überkey as well to avoid making keyframes.

Remeber to turn OFF überkey after you have finished using it.

martinb - Thank you for the step-by-step approach.