Modern Day Stargazing

 

The above photograph was taken with my second tripod and camera as I was doing a series of time lapses of the night sky. We had panoramic views of this astral display on our trip to Morocco when we entered the the very northern edge of the Sahara.


We left from the ancient Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou where we were staying at Kasbah Tebi. Our hosts took us deep into the desert to the start of the sand dunes

 

I have always been fascinated with capturing the milky way, past attempts were mostly knowing I was in a place with low light pollution, heading out at night and seeing what I can get.

 
Lake Mary, Flagstaff AZ

Lake Mary, Flagstaff AZ

 

People had always asked me why I don't use an App on my phone to map the stars, I always thought that took the fun out of it, just going out knowing where to go and getting the shot. Personally I liked having to search for it, either I could see it with my naked eye, that clear brighter band of stars in the sky, or the camera would pick it up and I would move accordingly, closing in on the hunt.

What I didn't realise, until living in Flagstaff, a dark sky city, is that the milky way has seasons.

This means that for some parts of the year, the milky way's brightest areas are in the sky during the day time, which explained why I would sometimes go out to the darkest place I could and see nothing!

This is when I decided give turning to an app a shot, because not only does it illustrate the sky clearly in real time, Sky Guide, the one I use, allows you to change your location and time, meaning I can actually plan ahead. I can find the location of where I will be visiting and see if the milky way will be over the horizon at night and if so, at what time.

This now means that when travelling somewhere with low light pollution, I can do my research and know if and when the milky way will be up and if anything will be obscuring it like a bright moon at the same time, or if its too late in the night and the sky is already starting to brighten up.
Because of this not only has my photography benefitted with my excursions producing successful shots more often, but it also allowed me to set alarms for ridiculous times of night to see the most amazing display, often just by myself, alone with the stars.