04 September 2017

Last Call for the Milky Way


"This whole earth which we inhabit is but a point in space. How far apart, think you, dwell the most distant inhabitants of yonder star, the breadth of whose disk cannot be appreciated by our instruments?"
~ Henry David Thoreau

Quick shot, 6 mins before moonrise, ©2016 Terrell Neasley

And just like that, summer is almost over and "Game of Thrones" is another year's wait. So much has been going on over the last few months, but that's another story. Right now, its all about getting that hustle and getting more gigs. So much to do for the remainder of the year. Can you believe its already September? Not many days in the year left. So if you want to shoot the Milky Way, you'd better get on it and do it now. Here's why:

Art Model Covenant, ©2016 Terrell Neasley

You can't shoot the Milky Way year around. You can shoot stars all year. And you can even shoot the Milky Way looking out away from the core. But you won't be shooting the core itself in about 5 weeks time and here's why.

Relative to the Milky Way, our solar system rotates on a different axis. The axis of the all the planets rotating around the sun is about 60 degrees relative to the Milky Way. During the winter months, we can't see the interior of the galactic core which is the largest concentration of stars that zoom around the super gigantic black hole in the center of our galaxy. The sun blocks the view because the earth is on the opposite side of it.

Art Model Covenant, ©2016 Terrell Neasley
So by mid to the 3rd week in October, all the way through til March, we can't see the galactic core of the Milky Way...at least not in the Northern Hemisphere. If you're in the Southern Hemisphere then you can begin to see it again by February. All that means by mid-October, you'd better have all your galactic core shots done.

Don't wait til the last minute on this. Do it as early as possible here in September. You'll need a tripod, a shutter release cable helps, and most importantly...fast glass. Ideally, you'd be better off using a wide-angle lens with a very large maximum aperture, such as a 24mm f/1.4 lens. You can get by with a lens that has a max aperture of f/2.8, but your exposure time will be longer. If the exposure time is too long, you'll get star trails in your Milky Way because of the rotation of the earth. Typically, I get my best exposure times at about 15 to 25 seconds depending on your camera's high ISO performance.

Art Model Covenant, ©2016 Terrell Neasley
A good camera that performs well at the higher ISOs will allow for a f/2.8 lens much better. The lower performance cameras will have to be helped out with faster glass. That's the trade off, but with a good camera AND fast glass, I've had exposures of only 10 seconds.

As I mentioned, you'll need a tripod for sure, however I said a shutter release cable would help. Since your exposure will typically be under 30 seconds, you don't technically need a shutter release cable because you can set the camera mode to shutter priority. You won't have to use the BULB mode for this. I still recommend a shutter release cable for the stability factor. Because you don't have to touch your camera you avoid the probability of introducing camera shake into your shot.

All that being said, get out and shoot some Milky Way shots before you have to wait another half year! Its Labor Day, so here are some Labor Day camping and Milky Way shots from on and around Labor Day of last year. Enjoy!

Art Model Covenant, ©2016 Terrell Neasley



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