When Can you See The Milky Way
It's one of the most asked questions I get. You can see the Milky Way galaxy every night. It's our galactic home, and nearly every star you see in the sky is in it. What we refer to as the Milky Way is the center of our galaxy. Think of holding a disc, like a vinyl record or frisbee, and keep it flat in front of you. Look straight at it, and you see just a thin line of the disc. Attach a ball in the center, and now you can see a lump in the middle. What we are witnessing is the disc of the Milky Way towards the center.
Here on Earth, we are looking across the edge of our galaxy towards the center. However, our planet's head isn't always pointed in the right direction. The times it is visible in the sky is referred to as the Milky Way Season - typically February through October. Early in the year, it's mostly visible a few hours before dawn. During the summers it's evident around midnight. In the later part of the year, it is just after twilight.
There are at least three factors the can affect us seeing the Milky Way - the Moon, weather, and light pollution. None of those factors are under our control. Light pollution is human-made, and if we can get far enough away from it, we can see the Milky Way. The Moon can also hinder the visibility as it reflects sunlight to us. However, the Moon is predictable, and therefore, we can plan around it.
There are plenty of viewing times depending on where the Moon is in relationship to the Milky Way. Sometimes the Moon is chasing or following the Milky Way. That's when the Moon is either setting or rising while the Milky Way is visible. Those are the times when you can go out a get a sneak peek at the Milky Way before the Moon's brilliance washes out the light from the Milky Way. There are also times when the Moon is riding the Milky Way, appearing on top of it, reducing the visibility of it.
An excellent time to plan to go out and see the Milky Way is during the phase of the New Moon when the Moon is between the Earth and the Sun. The Moon is near invisible in the night sky.
The one thing that we can't control yet is the weather. We can guess at the forecast, but we can't be sure. With that said, barring weather, I've been compiling a list of best possible dates in 2020 to photograph it. These are weekends with a New Moon, or nearly New Moon.
I also included a bit of information on how to view the Milky Way. Think of this as heads up for what is coming down the path for Astro-Landscape Photography Events.
The following are the dates and places I am currently looking at to photograph the Milky Way.
Sunday, March 22, 2020 - Early Morning - Big Cypress Swamp, FL
Sunday, April 19, 2020 - Early Morning - Blackburn Point, FL
Friday, May 22, 2020 - Midnight-ish - Kissimmee Prairie Preserve, FL
Sunday, June 21, 2020 - Midnight-ish - Coquina Beach, FL
Saturday, July 18, 2020 - Late Evening - High Plains Homestead, NE
Saturday, August 15, 2020 - Late Evening - Caspersen Beach, FL
Saturday, September 19, 2020 - After Twilight - Sanibel Island, FL
Friday, October 16, 2020 - After Twilight - Assateague Island, MD
The main goal for these excursions is to provide an experience in creating a single shot exposure or multiple exposures for stacking of the night sky. The next step is to render in post-production with Lightroom, Photoshop, or other editing software. I'll be there providing instruction, support, and demo some basic image editing.
If you are interested in joining me for any of those class dates, make sure to mark them down. Equipment you will need for the classes: an interchangeable lens system - mirrorless or D-SLR, a tripod, a shutter remote, an intervalometer, and a fast wide-angle lens.
I'm also planning on doing two or three possible Milky Way editing presentations next year.
Any questions, email me at email@example.com.