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Caspersen's Milky Way

Caspersen Beach with the light pollution edited out.

STORY: “Sometimes the struggle is the goal.” I lead a group anywhere from 4 to 20 around the Sun Coast of Florida in search of the Milky Way - usually from Englewood to Bradenton, FL. Not the most prime spots in search of the Milky Way. When you look at a light pollution map, the area is in the red/orange zone (lousy). There are so many strikes in this area for getting an acceptable photo. So we typically head to the beach and wait for the Milky Way to rise above the light domes off the coast. Then we hunt for that faint wisp of a view of the Galactic Core.

Most of the folks who follow me out into the dark are new. Or they remember as a child living someplace in the deep darkness and looking at the night sky and wonder. So I explain the settings and how to find them. Then they take the photo and are amazed. They often have stared into that same part of the night sky and never noticed it was there. I watch them become surprised about how simple and easy it is to find it. Then, of course, there is sadness when they realize how many cities have taken the night away. Most who come out will never buy a star tracker, a light pollution filter, or a decent tripod. Even more, most won’t take the next step in processing out the elements that hide it. But for those few who do… It’s those moments that make me continue to take people out into the dark.

This image photographed at Caspersen Beach, Venice, FL. I shot three images horizontally with intent to stitch them back together. The bottom was first, then the middle and then the top all within seconds of each other. The light dome has been reduced as much as possible through post-production. The star effect in the center is the planet Jupiter. The star effect is there because the humidity fogged my lens.

IMAGE PARTICULARS - EXIF: Three exposures all taken with same settings - bottom, middle top - 15 seconds, f/2.8 ISO 1600, focal length 24mm with a Nikon D610 & Tamron 24-70mm G2. Files in RAW with Adobe RGB color space. Edits - Photomerge Pano in Lightroom with necessary auto edits. Final edits in Aurora HDR 2019.


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The city of Venice, FL creates a lot of light pollution
Caspersen Beach with light pollution

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