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Maine Lighthouses, Milky Way & Night Photography
We traveled this route over several days. First of all, you will want to be sure to check out our Dark Sky Resources page to determine the ideal conditions for milky way viewing before planning your trip. The locations that we have picked for you are dark sky locations, but you will have to check the new moon/moonrise charts and be sure to go in the right month with a clear weather forecast to photograph the milky way. We suggest you make this trip during the milky way week of the month from May through October when it is visible. We were able to shoot for four nights before the clouds arrived. Therefore, we ended our trip. It was a beautiful stretch of perfect weather, and it was also during the week of meteor showers in August of 2015. As a result, you will see many meteors in our images.
The Lighthouse State
With 65 historical lighthouses still existing along the 5,000 miles of coastline, Maine is well known as the Lighthouse State. Many of Maine’s lighthouses are not accessible since you must take a boat tour to see them to the best images. You can get some good shots with zoom lenses from the mainland at some locations, but you need to be at a decent distance to do good night time milky way photography, so not all lighthouses are ideal for this purpose. Here are our favorites where you can stand right next to the lighthouse and get your images.
Cape Neddick Lighthouse, or Nubble Lighthouse
Cape Neddick Lighthouse or Nubble Light is located just a few hundred feet off of York Beach, and many tourists come to see its beauty. When we were there the milky way was very high up over the lighthouse when the sunset. The rich section of the milky way was in the opposite viewing direction.
Photography by Pamela Goodyer for Photography Magazine Extra©
Portland Head Lighthouse
The oldest lighthouse in Maine is located inside Fort Williams – 1000 Shore Road, Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107 – Welcoming nearly a million visitors a year. It is not a location we stopped at for an extended visit. We found this lighthouse along our trail, but unfortunately, this park closes at dusk, so don’t plan on doing any lighthouse milky way photography here.
Portland Head Lighthouse is a good stopping point along the trail to get some daytime lighthouse images. There is a food truck with a very long line, a hike along the coastline, and a few other things to photograph. It is not an ideal location with our high standards. Unfortunately, we include it only as a resting point and a place to see some history and go to their museum and be a tourist for a short time. Yes, you can get some good images with long exposure on the lighthouse’s water, but not too much more than that. Don’t plan too much time for this stop.
This is a great little spot due to its colors. You can shoot this location a hundred different ways and edit it so many ways and it still looks wondrous. It is a very small town. You can miss this spot as you drive through.
Pemaquid Point Lighthouse
The Bristol Parks and Recreation Department operates the lighthouse and outbuildings as Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park. This is one of our favorite lighthouses to photograph along the Maine Coast. Also, it makes dramatic daytime pictures and some pretty outstanding milky way shots. This is a tranquil location off the beaten path, and tourists do not overrun it. You can also take a puffin tour during the daytime. Be sure to bring your zoom lens. You don’t get too close.
The keeper’s house is now the Fishermen’s Museum at Pemaquid, which contains displays and artifacts of the lighthouse and local maritime history. Opened in 2008, the Learning Center is a community resource for offering movies, classes, and concerts. Other park activities include viewing the lighthouse, picnicking, and viewing local paintings at the Pemaquid Art Gallery.