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
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.
International Dark Sky Parks
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