Best Pix of 2016: Milky Way Chasing

People

You may be thinking, a blog entry about the Milky Way without a picture of the Milky Way? This picture, however, does represent a significant part of the process of capturing the Milky Way. First and foremost, it contains someone who has braved the cold and darkness, stayed up late, woke up early, drove many miles, and enjoyed the night sky with me; my wife Ashley.  Without her support and help, Milky Way chasing would be a very different experience. Second, the shot also represents a key aspect of taking Milky Way photos; planning. As you may have guessed, this shot was taken in the middle of the day at a location on the outskirts of Big Meadows within Shenandoah National Park. Using my various planning apps, I had determined looking this way, at this set of trees would make a perfect foreground for a Milky Way time lapse video. This spot was also relatively further away from the normal stargazing crowds so we would not be bothered by other's flashlights. I had it all planned out. As full darkness took over at around 8:30pm later that night, the Milky Way would appear on the left half of the frame and travel across to the right side ending around 12:00am, all with this perfect set of 3 trees taking up space in the foreground. After sunset, me and Ashley headed back to this spot, set up my gear, and patiently waited until darkness took over to record the 3 hour time lapse. Our stay, however, was not long. As darkness began to fall, we were slowly surrounded by several deer wondering if we were a threat or not. Not wanting to find out what they wanted, me and Ashley quickly picked up our stuff and head back to our car. Luckily, we were able to find a different spot (closer to other stargazers) to record the time lapse which you can check out on my instagram feed. 

Moments

Back on a extremely cold night in April, me and Ashley got up at 2:30am to drive to Assateague National Seashore to catch a glimpse of the Milky Way. Bundled up in gloves, under armour, thick jackets, and plenty of blankets, me and Ashley set up shop on one of the small board walks within the shores of Assateague. The shot above is a particularly unique moment where I was able to capture two shooting stars through the center of the frame. Both meteorites appear to be traveling in the same direction that the Milky Way galactic plane is seemingly "pointing" in. Being only my second time attempting to shoot the stars, I was extremely excited to have captured this shot. 

Places

 Shenandoah National Park was the last place me and Ashley got to stargaze at in 2016 back in late August. During the later summer months, Milky Way galactic plane is not only visible earlier in the night but also appears to originate from the horizon at a 90 degree angle. This shot was one of my favorite stills from our trip as the Milky Way bisects the frame surrounded by two groups of trees. If you are on the east coast, I would highly recommending checking out Big Meadows within Shenandoah National Park for some stargazing. You will not be disappointed.  

Shenandoah National Park was the last place me and Ashley got to stargaze at in 2016 back in late August. During the later summer months, Milky Way galactic plane is not only visible earlier in the night but also appears to originate from the horizon at a 90 degree angle. This shot was one of my favorite stills from our trip as the Milky Way bisects the frame surrounded by two groups of trees. If you are on the east coast, I would highly recommending checking out Big Meadows within Shenandoah National Park for some stargazing. You will not be disappointed.  

Things & Spaces

Being in the northern hemisphere, the brightest part of the Milky Way usually appears in the southern skies never getting much higher than 20-30 degrees above the horizon. In most of my photos, you will the see the Milky Way and stars with some foreground element to ground the photo. When stargazing in person, however, one can't help but look everywhere to enjoy the blanket of stars above, not just along the horizon. For the photo above, I pointed my camera straight up at a 90 degree angle to photograph the space directly above us at Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania. Known to be one of the darkest spots on the east coast, the Milky Way appears to the naked eye as a distinct white band arching 180 degrees from horizon to horizon. This is the view my camera was able to capture when looking directly up into the space above. 

Check out the blog archive for more Milky Way chasing photo stories!

Assateague

Cherry Springs State Park

Shenandoah National Park