Milky Way Chasing @ Cherry Springs State Park

Since getting into Milky Way/night time photography earlier this year, I've learned to get the photograph you want, you have to really want to get the photograph you want . By that I mean, you have to research locations, find places without light pollution, plan around the moon schedule, be up for many hours in the middle of the night, drive several hours to get to a dark enough spot, closely monitor weather forecasts, and also be lucky enough to have a clear sky when you're available to go. 

This past weekend exemplified my borderline obsessiveness with getting the shot. The shot in question was to photograph the Milky Way rising vertically at a 90 degree angle from the ground. The most recent new moon (no moon in the sky) was August 2nd, which gave me a two weekend span between 7/29 and 8/6 to get a decent shot of the Milky Way. Using PhotoPills (smartphone app for photo planning), I also found that during this timeframe, the Milky Way arch would be completely vertical from around 12:30am-1am. The first weekend, we headed up to Lewisburg to visit Andrew Stuhl and celebrate Everett Stuhl's 4th bday with the intention of also visiting Cherry Springs later at night. Unfortunately, clouds hung around the entire weekend rendering a stargazing trip pointless. As the following week progressed, I had two locations in mind to get my shot, Assateague National Seashore to my south, or Cherry Springs State Park, PA to my north, once again. As the week progressed, it became apparent that upstate PA would have the best chance for a clear night. Again, me and the wifey trekked back up to PA. Being a 5 hour trip from Newark, DE to Cherry Springs State Park, we pitstopped at Andrew Stuhl's in Lewisburg, PA for a couple hours (for the second weekend in a row) and made the remaining two hour drive to Cherry Springs. To get there, we drove north past Williamsport, and through many small PA towns such as Mansfield, Wellsboro, and Galeton; each location getting more and more remote. Once we arrived, all the planning paid off. 

One of the first shots taken that night around 10:00pm. Milky Way still not vertical yet... but patience

As we stepped out of the car, we could immediately see the Milky Way galactic plane arching overhead and stretching 180 degrees from horizon to horizon. If you have never seen it before, (Again, you have to go somewhere very dark, often several hours from towns and cities) it is one of the most amazing things you can ever see. Being in a dark location alone, you can see many more stars than you can ever see in a urban/suburban location. But, if you're in a dark location when the Milky Way galactic core is visible (March-September), you will not be disappointed. 

Milky Way Close-Up

Milky Way Arching directly overhead

Milky Way rising vertically from the southwest horizon

Milky Way pot of gold

Milky Way plane arching high above us, rising from the SW horizon around 12:45am

Milky Way arch completing its horizon to horizon stretch at the NE horizon, notice the Andromeda Galaxy as a small but bright disk in the center of the photo to the right of the Milky Way Galactic plane

Milky Way Nebula