Dark Sky Information
Below are a few different resources you can use to locate your next location for your dark sky photography adventure. The essential 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 right. 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 also be considered 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 you see the milky way in the pre-dawn hours. Again, the milky way rises in June around 10:30 and 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 1 hour after the sun hits the horizon when the milky way starts to burst.
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
Cherry Springs Star Party Pennsylvania: Sponsored by the Astronomical Society of Harrisburg
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 nights of observing
Location: Belleplain State Forest, 1 Henkinsifkin Road, Woodbine, NJ 08270
REGISTRATION FEES: Pre-registration is $15.00
Registration at the door is $20 per person upon arrival at the event. Kids 16 and under are free!
Click Here for a Pre-registration form to mail in, or you can pre-register using PayPal: