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Photographing the Milky Way

If you live in the northern hemisphere, the Milky Way will appear in the southern half of the night sky, whereas if you live in the southern hemisphere, it will appear overhead. So in the former case, make sure the view is unobstructed to the south.


So you think you found a location and are ready to go, just need to wait for darkness, right? Not so hasty. For one thing, as I mentioned before, the Earth rotates around its axis so we need to wait for the Milky Way, or rather the Galactic Center (which is the brightest part) to come into view. For another, we may be able to avoid artifical light sources, but we can’t stop the Moon from rising! The Moon is easily the brightest thing in the night sky and it’s not hard to imagine what it will do to your image if you shoot wide open and expose for 30 seconds, is it?

There are a couple of apps available that will be able to tell you when there’s a chance to shoot the Milky Way, I use Sun Surveyor (Android) and Photopills (Android) (these are also available for iOS, Sun Surveyor (iOS) and Photopills (iOS)).

2 thoughts on Photographing the Milky Way

  1. Astro photography is something that I would like to try in the future. It’s probably something that goes hand in hand with wild camping (which isn’t something I would like to try in the future if I am honest). This is a fantastic article covering everything you need to know to get you started. Nice one mate.

    • Thanks Chris! I haven’t done any wild camping yet, but wouldn’t mind, actually (Iceland anyone?) Regarding night sky photography, there’s this moment of suspense before the image appears on the rear display, because you have to compose the shot in your mind – it’s pitch dark after all! You can’t even focus…

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