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

NPhoto - - CONTENTS -

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.dark­

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.

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