Where to do Milky Way Photography in New Jersey

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The Milky Way can be found in New Jersey if you know, when, where, and how to look for her. You must have this information because she is not always visible.  You can go to our Dark Sky page and click on the dark sky finder map.  One place that is not listed here is Batso Village. We just aren’t in the mood to get arrested this summer. The Park Police are gung-ho on keeping all of us out. If you go here, be prepared to avoid them and if you get caught, you will be removed and have to pay the fine. (Just be sure you get your shot before you are removed).

The Bass River/Bellepain State Park Area is a dark sky area, and Hope New Jersey is also dark sky are.  Jenny Jump State Park has rustic cabin rentals. These are some places not listed below.

If you have other N.J. Milky Way locations with some images and you would like us to add them here with your full credits; please email: photomagx@outlook.com

Go to our page with more detailed information. You will want to use a dark sky map, and in New Jersey, you should be in the yellow areas to see the milky way. You can also view cloud coverage of New Jersey here.  You won’t get any dark blue or dark gray in regions on the map in New Jersey, but yellow is sufficient.

Can you guess where we are going this week? Back to the bridge and then where to? Hmm.

How to Shoot Milky Way and Night Sky Photography

Manual Mode – Set your camera to manual mode so you can control the Aperture and the shutter speed.

ISO – Start with ISO 3200.  This is just a standard starting point and you will adjust from here. Remember the higher the ISO the more digital noise you will have.


The depth of field isn’t very important on these shots but letting the light in the camera is, therefore you shoot wide open. (The lowest aperture your camera will allow).

Shutter Speed

Now that you have the ISO and Aperture set in Manual Mode. Set your shutter speed. We shoot at 20 seconds because of the size of our lens to avoid short star trails or blurry stars.

Remember the earth is rotating. If you leave the shutter open for too long you will see star trails that will not make for a crisp image. You can do star trails specifically but that’s not what we are going for here since we are starting out with Milky Way photography. We want crisp non-star trail images when doing this. Here is the formula to avoid star trails. The 500 rule – Divide 500 by the focal length of your lens. So, if you have a 24mm lens on a full-frame camera, you will set your shutter speed to 20 sec. (500/24 = 20.83). If you are using a crop sensor camera first do the math of the crop sensor to find the focal length. Cannon is 1.6, Nikon is 1.5. Convert to full-frame focal length then use the formula. Nikon 18mm x 1.5= 27mm – 500/27 = 18.51 seconds.

White Balance

Shoot your night photography raw so you can easily edit your images and have more information to work with than if you shot JPEG.  When in live view mode you can change your white balance settings and see which looks best for you on each shot.  You can shoot in shade or cloud as a standard-setting and adjust things later.  Add in color in your milky way to match the subject whilst editing in the image later if you would like to also.

Those are all of the basic starting points for doing your Milky Way shots.  You will want to find some interesting foreground to make your shot dynamic. Doing plain old Milky Way shots will not win you any awards.

Check out further Milky Way Photography Information before you go.


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The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains our Solar System. The descriptive “milky” is derived from the appearance from Earth of the galaxy – a band of light seen in the night sky formed from stars that cannot be individually distinguished by the naked eye. The term Milky Way is a translation of the Latin via lactea, from the Greek γαλαξίας κύκλος (galaxías kýklos, “milky circle”). From Earth, the Milky Way appears as a band because its disk-shaped structure is viewed from within. Galileo Galilei first resolved the band of light into individual stars with his telescope in 1610. Until the early 1920s, most astronomers thought that the Milky Way contained all the stars in the Universe.[28] Following the 1920 Great Debate between the astronomers, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis,[29] observations by Edwin Hubble showed that the Milky Way is just one of many galaxies.

Light Painting

The next step is to learn to light up the subjects under the milky way by painting them with light. This is where being an artist comes into play. The basics idea is to light up just what it is that you want to appear in the image with a good flashlight. Experimentation sometimes will lead to pretty interesting images. Remember if something is moving in your image and the light hits it, it will blur. If it is a stationary object it will not blur. Light Painting 101 is coming soon!

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Park and Area Information for N.J. Milky Way:

Every place here is free to enter. 🙂 Just don’t park in the Barnegat Light State Park parking lot. They lock the gate at 10:00 p.m.

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Hotel Information for N.J. Milky Way:

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 Restaurants for N.J. Milky Way:

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Camping for N.J. Milky Way:

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