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Dark Sky Information

Below are a few different resources you can use to locate your next location for your dark sky photography adventure. The most important part of doing Milky Way photography is finding the darkest skies so it is visible. See the dark sky map below.  The darker the skies the more you will see the Milky Way in your image.  Also, keep in mind the Milky Way is above the horizon during certain months of the year. We start our Milky Way adventures in June around 10:30 p.m.  You must do the photography when no moon is visible. See the new moon chart. The week before the new moon the moon rises very late or should we say early the next morning so your still good to go.  Basic Night Sky Photography can be done at any time since the Milky Way will not be a part of it.

When to See the Milky Way

The months of November, December and January are not ideal at all for views of the best part of the Milky Way.  The best viewing time in the Northern Hemisphere is in the summer.  Hot, humid or stormy nights make for less ideal conditions and the nights are shorter too but there is still ample opportunity to get it and get it good.  A tool called a planisphere can be used to help locate and find out when the dense part of the Milky Way will be visible.  The time of year must be considered also for getting the best view of the Milky Way. Generally, the dense part of the Milky Way is best viewed when it is as high as possible in the Southern sky. Facing south during April and May the pre-dawn hours are best. From June to early August the best time is near midnight, though the Milky Way will be visible almost all night. From Mid August through September the best time is soon after the sun has set and the sky has grown dark. Generally, start 2 hours after the sun hits the horizon.

Certified International Dark Sky Parks

Natural Bridges National Monument – Utah, USA
Cherry Springs State Park –  Pennsylvania, USA
Galloway Forest Park –  Scotland, UK
Zselic National Landscape Protection Area – Hungary
Goldendale Observatory Park – Washington, USA
Clayton Lake State Park – New Mexico, USA
Hortobagy National Park – Hungary
Observatory Park – Ohio, USA
The Headlands – Michigan, USA
Big Bend National Park – Texas, USA 2012
Death Valley National Park – California, USA 2013
Chaco Culture National Historical Park – New Mexico, USA 2013

Northumberland National Park and Kielder Water Forest Park – Northumberland, England
Eifel International Dark Sky Park – North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany 2014 Provisional
Mayland Community College Blue Ridge Observatory and Star Park

North Carolina, – Parashant International Night Sky Province – Arizona, USA 2014
Hovenweep National Monument – Utah-Colorado, USA 2014
Copper Breaks State Park – Texas, USA 2014
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area – Texas, USA 2014
Oracle State Park – Arizona, USA 2014
Weber County North Fork Park – Utah, USA 2015
Capitol Reef National Park – Utah, USA 2015

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Star Party and Event Finder

This is a great tool to find a Party or Event at any location. Click on a location and see what’s going on out there on the next new moon or at any time.  Find a Star Party or Event here.

Click here to go to the Dark Sky Finder Map.  The first part of doing night sky or milky way photography is to find a dark location. These type of maps are all a little slow but you definitely will find your spot using this.

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Click here to go to the International Dark Sky Places Map.

International Dark Sky Parks

Flagstaff Arizona – Kaibab Paiute IDSC – Flagstaff IDSC
An International Dark Sky Community in Arizona, USA, established 2001.  http://darksky.org/night-sky-conservation/36-ida/night-sky-conservation/88-international-dark-sky-communities
Arizona – Kaibab Paiute IDSC – An International Dark-Sky Community in Arizona, USA, established in 2015. http://www.kaibabpaiute-nsn.gov/
Borrego Springs IDSC

California – An International Dark Sky Community in California, USA, established 2009.  http://darksky.org/night-sky-conservation/36-ida/night-sky-conservation/88-international-dark-sky-communities

Sedona Arizona – Sedona IDSC – An International Dark Sky Community in Arizona, USA, established in 2014. http://www.sedonaaz.gov/
Colorado – Westcliffe / Silver Cliff IDSC – An International Dark Sky Community in Colorado, USA, established in 2015. http://www.wetmtndarkskies.org/

International Dark Sky Parks continued

Quebec Canada – A Silver-tier International Dark Sky Reserve in Quebec, Canada, established 2008.  http://www.astrolab-parc-national-mont-megantic.org/en/mt_megantic_international_dark_sky_reserve_idsr.the_mt_megantic_idsr.htm

Indiana – Beverly Shores IDSC -An International Dark Sky Community in Indiana, USA, established in 2014. http://www.beverlyshoresindiana.org/
An International Dark Sky Community in Illinois, USA, established 2011.  http://darksky.org/night-sky-conservation/36-ida/night-sky-conservation/88-international-dark-sky-communities
Homer Glen, IL – Westcliffe / Silver Cliff IDSC  -An International Dark Sky Community in Colorado, USA, established in 2015. http://www.wetmtndarkskies.org/
Flagstaff Arizona – Kaibab Paiute IDSC – Flagstaff IDSC
An International Dark Sky Community in Arizona, USA, established 2001.  http://darksky.org/night-sky-conservation/36-ida/night-sky-conservation/88-international-dark-sky-communities

Star Parties

Cherry Springs Star Party Pennsylvania: Sponsored by the Astronomical Society of Harrisburg and in 2012 will be held June 11-14, 2015.

Registration is now open:  http://www.cherrysprings.org

Black Forest Star Party: Sponsored by the Central Pennsylvania Observers, State College, PA. will be held August 22-24, 2014- Read More at: http://www.cpoclub.org

New Jersey Star Parties

SJAC Spring Star Party: – Join them under South Jersy skies for three nighs of observing

Date: Thursday, 5/14/2015 – Sunday, 5/17/2015

Time: 3:00 PM – 12:00 PM

Location: Belleplain State Forest, 1 Henkinsifkin Road, Woodbine, NJ 08270