Summer Trip to Milky Way

by Anand

Posted on : 01 Mar 2017

What is Milky Way??

  • The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains our Solar System.
  • The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy some 100,000–120,000 light-years in diameter, which contains 100–400 billion stars.
  • The very center is marked by an intense radio source, named Sagittarius A*,which is likely to be a supermassive black hole

When to see Milky Way??

  • The core part is not visible in most of November, December, January, and the first half of February.  See the below picture. During above month we will be at opposite side of Milky Way Galaxy. So in day light we will be facing Sun and because of bright Sun we can't see anything in day light.

  • Since earth rotates around sun counterclockwise. So exactly after Six months we will be at opposite side of sun as mentioned below in picture.May, June and July we can see Core part of galaxy is the best time to do Milky Way photography. But we can also Do photography in March, April before Sunrise (early Morning) and and in August, September after Sunset. There is Set and Rise time of Milky Way galaxy in each Month is different.

  • Don't try to do photography under Full moon. New Moon night (Darkest night in a month) is the best day to see Milky Way galaxy.

Check the weather before you visit the place . You need very clear sky (Not Cloudy or partly cloudy).

Where to see Milky Way?? (Place)

  • You need to visit place where there is no light pollution. don't try to click photos from your terrace or in main city area. Go to remote place where there is no source of single light for better result. (in short the most darkest place around you). See the difference  between below pic. one is with light pollution and other on is without.

below given link will help you to find place where to go.

Light pollution map, to see the Milky Way Galaxy from Earth

How to see Milky Way??

  • Last and the most interesting part how to see Milky Way in night sky.
  • You need to spend some time under a dark sky before your eyes become fully adapted to the darkness. It takes about 20 minutes for human eyes to become fully sensitive to faint light.
  • Then Use Google Sky Map or Star Chart application to find exact location of Milky Way.
  • Or before you visit place, you can install Stellarium (Desktop application). In which you can see realistic sky in 3D to find location of Milky Way.

Let's Talk about Camera Settings which is really important. 

Aperture : At lowest number (wider aperture ) f1.8 to f3.8. because place will be dark so wider aperture capture more amount of lights.

Focal Length : 18 mm will be fine for landscape photography. remember the more you zoom in the less shutter speed should be to avoid start trails.

Earth rotate at speed of 1670 kilometers/hour. so in long exposure photography generally you will see stars moving in photos which we want to avoid.

Shutter Speed : for 18 mm you can try 15-20 seconds shutter speed. Better you go for 10 mm prime lens. you can set your shutter speed up to 30 seconds with 10 mm lens.

Based on my experience Shutter speed plays major role in Milky Way photography.

ISO :  Personal Choice. if you just want to capture Milky way then go for Higher ISO. But as we all know Higher ISO means sensor noise in image which reduce quality of image. If you want better result then start ISO from  800 to 1600 depending on place and light. learn about how to reduce noise in Astrophotography. 

Lens Focus :  Set your lens to infinity focus else you will see blur starts when you zoom into picture. so Lens focus set to infinity. In few lens we don't have indicator for infinity focus. So in night focusing to any object is challenging because everything will be dark. But Don't worry just before Sun Set focus your lens to Sun (which is at infinity distance) and then put your lens to manual mode. Simple :)

Last but not the least.

Photos clicked by me :)

Place : Leh, India
Time : June, 2015

Place : Jabel Akhdar, Oman
Time: May, 2015

Place : Desert, Oman
Time: May, 2015