Foto Dono's 2021 Milky Way Season - Part 4 - Looking for the Milky Way - April and May

Updated: Jan 6

The Milky Way in the Smoky Mountains

During the upcoming Milky Way season, I'm planning a trip outside of Florida within driving distance. The Smoky Mountain National Park is are one such place that is within driving distance for me. I've visited the area several times in the last two years. When looking for new places to photograph, if you can, it's best to stay there more than once, especially if you can visit the area at different times of the year. There are plenty of times after traveling that I wished I could take one more photo. Florida is pretty easy as most places are within four to six hours away. The Smoky Mountains are a little bit further but could be driven to within a day from home.

Depending on how the year unfolds, I might be able to squeeze a few trips up the mountains or maybe a bit farther out west.

Special Note: April and May also have two meteor showers occurring. The first up is The Lyrid Meteor showers from April 14th to the 30th. It'll peak around the 21st and 22nd. The Eta Aquariids showers are active from April 19th to May 28th and peaks around May 4th - 5th. The Eta Aquarids have a better show in the Southern hemisphere, or so I am told. Meteor shower names are tied to the constellations from which they appear to radiate. However, the meteors can appear all across the sky.

In the Milky Way photo of the Smoky Mountains, there is a meteor crossing my path. It's in between the Core and the bight spot, Jupiter. Keep in mind meteors hit the sky every day. These showers and few others are more famous because you can go from 6 to 20 meteors per hour. Also, not every spot on Earth has a great seat to see the show. The best thing to do is to have patience and enjoy the star-studded fireworks from space.


In April, I hope to be in the Smoky Mountain National Park, photographing the arrival of Spring, waterfalls, and the Milky Way. I've attempted photographing the Core before in the mountains with limited success. The trick is to find a view that's not blocked by mountains but has mountains in the composition. I will try for Clingman's Dome this year as the view on top allows you to see for miles around. Like the months before, the best capture times are before the Core's visibility sets. However, I should have anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes of capture time before that happens. Another challenge in shooting in the mountains is I have almost no reception up in the mountains. In most places I visit, I can get a signal that allows me to use apps to fine-tune the composition. I'll have to rely on experience and by a line of sight. I'm also hoping to take advantage of some early morning twilight for some help in creating composite compositions.

April 8th

  • Core Visibility - 1:42 AM to 5:43 AM

  • Capture Time - 4:13 AM to 5:43 AM

  • Moonrise - 5:50 AM - Waning Crescent

  • Blue Hour - 6:44 AM

  • Golden Hour - 6:55 AM

  • Sunrise - 7:11 AM

April 9th

  • Core Visibility - 1:38 AM to 5:41 AM

  • Capture Time - 4:11 AM to 5:41 AM

  • Moonrise 6:18 AM - Waning Crescent

  • Blue Hour - 6:43 AM

  • Golden Hour - 6:53 AM

  • Sunrise - 7:09 AM

April 10th

  • Core Visibility - 1:35 AM to 5:39 AM

  • Capture Time - 4:09 AM to 5:39 AM

  • Blue Hour - 6:41 AM

  • Moonrise 6:45 AM - Waning Crescent

  • Golden Hour 6:52 AM

  • Sunrise - 7:08 AM

April 11th

  • New Moon

  • Core Visibility - 1:31 AM to 5:38 AM

  • Capture Time - 4:08 AM to 5:38 AM

  • Blue Hour - 6:40 AM

  • Golden Hour - 6:40 AM

  • Sunrise - 7:11 AM

April 15th

  • Core Visibility - 1:51 AM to 5:31 AM

  • Capture Time - 4:01 AM to 5:31 AM

  • Blue Hour - 6:35 AM

  • Golden Hour - 6:45 AM

  • Sunrise - 7:01 AM

April 16th

  • Core Visibility - 1:11 AM to 5:30 AM

  • Capture Time - 4:00 AM to 5:30 AM

  • Blue Hour - 6:33 AM

  • Golden Hour - 6:44 AM

  • Sunrise - 7:00 AM

April 17th

  • Moonset 12:34 AM - Waxing Cresent

  • Core Visibility - 1:07 AM to 5:28 AM

  • Capture Time - 3:58 AM to 5:29 AM

  • Blue Hour - 6:32 AM

  • Golden Hour - 6:42 AM