Shoot the Milky Way
Sick of star trails? Jason Parnell-brookes shows you how to photograph the Milky Way galaxy with nothing more than a tripod and a wide-angle lens
Capture the cosmos with long exposures and minimal kit
The long, dark nights of winter are a wonderful time to try your hand at astrophotography, but those of us who live in cities rarely have the chance to see a truly dark sky. To escape the light pollution of urban conurbations and really see the stars, you’ll need to head to a recognized dark sky area – and fortunately, most of us aren’t too far away from a suitable spot – see www.darksky.org.
At this time of year, with a little planning and a bit of travel, it’s possible to reveal the full glory of the heavens in the darkest skies with a photograph and be back home for bedtime.
Our galaxy, the barred spiral shape of the Milky Way, is seen side-on from earth as a band of subtle light that reaches through the night sky. Even in the darkest of spots, it tricky to see it in all its glory with the naked eye, but thanks to our Nikons’ long- exposure abilities, we can reveal the galaxy in eye-popping detail.
The only equipment you really need to shoot it are a tripod, your camera, and a wide-angle lens. More important is to check that the conditions are right; you’ll obviously need a clear, cloudless night, but you’ll also want to avoid a full moon as it will overpower the weak light of the distant stars. It’s important to know where and when the Milky Way will appear, too.