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Milky Way Photography Locations USA
Milky Way Photography Near Me
Have you ever looked up at the night sky and been awestruck by the sight of the Milky Way? If so, you’re not alone – this magnificent spiral galaxy has inspired artists and photographers for centuries. In this article, we’ll explore the history of Milky Way photography and share some tips on capturing this celestial wonder yourself. We can guide you where to see the Milky Way with this Milky Way location information.
Milky Way Photography Locations – The starting point of Milky Way photography is finding the right location in the dark sky areas and going during the months the milky way is visible. Before starting, read our Dark Sky Information page, review the When to Go, and look at the dark sky map. – Dark Sky Photography Resources.
The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy with a diameter between 100,000 and 180,000 light-years. The Milky Way is estimated to contain 100–400 billion stars. There are probably at least 100 billion planets in the Milky Way. The Solar System is located within the disk, about 26,000 light-years from the Galactic Center, on the inner edge of one of the spiral-shaped concentrations of gas and dust called the Orion Arm. The stars in the inner ≈10,000 light-years form a bulge and one or more bars that radiate from the bulge. An intense radio source marks the center, Sagittarius A*, which is likely to be a supermassive black hole.
More Feature Milky Way Photography Locations
Where to do Milky Way Photography – Info
If you want to do Milky Way photography, there are a few things you need to consider. You will need a location away from city lights. You will also want a clear sky with no moon in sight and these are ideal Milky Way photography locations.
There are several ways to find a suitable location for Milky Way photography. You can use a light pollution map to find an area away from city lights. You can also look at the night sky for darker areas or check for national parks or wildlands areas that might have dark skies. See more on locations below.
Once you have found a good location and selected your night, you must choose a subject against the Milky Way. Anything will work, but some subjects are better than others. Landscape photos with mountains, trees, or balanced rocks or unique rock formations work well.
When you have decided on your location and subject, the next step is to check the weather forecast. You want a clear sky with no clouds or rain. The night should also be calm with little or no wind. If possible, look for nights when there is no moon in the sky as this will give you an even darker sky.
Gear to Bring to the Milky Way Photography Location
One of the most essential things for Milky Way photography is a DSLR camera with a full-frame sensor. This will give you the best image quality and low-light performance. You will also need a fast lens with an aperture of f/2.8 or wider. A wide-angle lens is also essential for capturing as much of the night sky as possible. Finally, you will need a tripod to keep your camera steady during long exposures.
Other helpful gear for Milky Way photography includes a remote shutter release, (although todays camera have 2-second timer), an intervalometer, and noise reduction software. A remote shutter release or setting your 2-second timer allows you to take long exposures without touching your camera, which can cause camera shake. An intervalometer automatically lets you take a series of exposures, which helps create time-lapse videos or star trail photographs. Noise reduction software can help reduce the amount of digital noise in your photos, giving you cleaner, sharper images.
Milky Way Photography Locations
Some popular locations for Milky Way photography include national parks, deserts, and mountaintops. Death Valley National Park in California is an excellent option because it has very dark skies and an open horizon. The same can be said for Great Basin National Park in Nevada. Any desert location will do the trick if you want something closer to home. Make sure no mountains are blocking your view of the night sky. And finally, mountaintops are always a good choice for stargazing and Milky Way photography.
More Milky Way Photography Locations to Shoot
1. Death Valley National Park, California
2. Great Basin National Park, Nevada
3. Glacier National Park, Montana
4. Acadia National Park, Maine
5. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
6. Big Bend National Park, Texas
7. Joshua Tree National Park, California
8. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
9. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Every state has somewhere to do Milky Way Photography. The list is just some top locations. Even densely populated states with a lot of light pollution has some places to photograph the milky way.
Milky Way & Night Sky Photography How-To
What you will need:
Light pollution map – light pollution map
Camera – You will need a camera to control your ISO, shutter speed, and aperture manually.
Lens – A fast wide-angle lens of 1.4 – 2.8 is ideal. If you use a 3.5 or higher (slower lens), you must increase the ISO. The higher the ISO, the more grain or digital noise or grain in your photos.
Tripod – A good sturdy tripod is essential for night photography. If it gets windy, you will need a sturdy one. Remember that when you buy one, it should be sturdy enough to withstand the wind but small enough to fit in your suitcase.
Sky Map – Sky Guide is $ available through the iTunes Store for $1.99. It has a 5 out of 5-star rating on both the current (3.2) version (1200+ ratings) and all previous versions (8600+ ratings).
Flashlight – Our choice is Coast brand for flashlights. The ideal flashlight will have high lumens, and you can zoom in and out on the light emitting from the flashlight. Get the HP7, PX45, or the G50. Ideally, go with the HP7.
Moon Phaze Map – The best time to go is during a new moon, and you want to be in the darkest area possible. The week before the new moon, when the moon has not risen, is a perfect time to go, so check the moonrise chart to see when the moon will be up.
Remote Shutter Release – When painting with light and you want to go over a 30-second exposure, you must have a shutter release to use your bulb mode. You can use the remote release or your camera’s built-in two-second timer when exposing your pictures.
Use a Tripod – First, you must be on a tripod. A good sturdy tripod is necessary if it is windy. If the tripod moves, your picture will blur.
Focus – Use live view. Use your camera’s live view to focus in the dark, hit the zoom button, and focus on a bright star. You can also use the infinity setting on your lens but do several test shots to determine accuracy. It can be off a little on some lenses. You can also light it up with a flashlight, focus, then gently, without touching the focus ring, put the camera in manual focus so it will not search for the focus. You must do this each time you move your camera to take your next angel.
ISO – Start with ISO 1600 – 3200. This is a common starting point, and you will adjust from here.
Shutter Speed – 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. We want crisp non-star trail images. 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, and 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.
Aperture – Depth of field isn’t critical in these shots, but letting the light into the camera is; therefore, you should shoot wide open. If the depth of field is essential to you, try not to go too high. (wide open =the lowest aperture your camera will allow). You will have to increase the ISO, giving you digital noise.
White balance suggestion: Use live view mode to change your white balance settings and see what they look like. You can shoot in shade or cloud mode as a standard setting and adjust things later.
Light Painting at The Milky Way Photography Location
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 basic idea is to light up what you want to appear in the image with a good flashlight. Experimentation sometimes will lead to pretty interesting photos. Remember, if something is moving in your picture and the light hits it, it will blur. If it is a stationary object like the pink car above, it cannot blur. If a person were in the image and moved, the vehicle would be clear, and the person would blur if they moved. You can visit our painting with a light section for more details here. That page will be up soon. We are building away! Please look at our Alien Photography Light Painting page for examples of painting with light.
You can also get lessons from Pamela Goodyer directly. :) She has several photography tours, almost all including Milky Way photography locations, so when the weather is clear, the group can learn to paint with light and photograph the Milky Way. The tours in dark sky areas are always scheduled around the new moon. The Iceland tour does not since the sun never sets in July and the skies do not get dark.
The Costa Rica tour is run around the new moon and in dark sky territory. The weather in Costa Rica only sometimes cooperates since the country gets a lot of rain, but the group will do Milky Way photography on clear nights. Because of the country’s dark skies, this is a good Milky Way photography location, weather permitting.
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About the Milky Way
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 like 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. Following the 1920 Great Debate between the astronomers, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, observations by Edwin Hubble showed that the Milky Way is just one of many galaxies.
Stars and gases at a wide range of distances from the Galactic Center orbit at approximately 220 kilometers per second.
The constant rotation speed contradicts the laws of Keplerian dynamics and suggests that much of the mass of the Milky Way does not emit or absorb electromagnetic radiation. This mass has been termed “dark matter”. The rotational period is about 240 million years at the position of the Sun. The Milky Way as a whole is moving at a velocity of approximately 600 km per second with respect to extragalactic frames of reference. The oldest stars in the Milky Way are nearly as old as the Universe itself and thus probably formed shortly after the Dark Ages of the Big Bang.
The Milky Way has several satellite galaxies and is part of the Local Group of galaxies, which is a component of the Virgo Supercluster, which is itself a component of the Laniakea Supercluster.