July 24, 2022 593 words 2 minutes to read

Chasing the Milky Way

Chasing the Milky Way

I love photographing the stars. I get just as much joy using my “ordinary” mirrorless Sony Alpha 6300 camera as I do using a high-powered telescope. The problem is that I live in Bortle 6/7 skies so it’s always too bright to see the Milky Way. However, I live near the Cascades mountain range and it’s less than an hour drive to reach darker skies. This light pollution map reveals the closest town with darker (blue) skies is Index, Washington.

Light pollution map
Light pollution map


Index is a small town nestled in the Cascades. After crossing the main bridge coming into town, there is a park, a general store, and a few homes. You can see just how small the town is here.

Photo credit: Google Maps
Photo credit: Google Maps


Our original plan was to visit a small park at the end of town that would be very dark. Unfortunately, we arrived too late after sunset and didn’t want to stumble around an unfamiliar landscape near a large river. We’ll return another day when it’s light and setup to wait for darkness. So, we returned to the bridge. There were street lamps and occasional passing cars, but the view was incredible.

The view from the bridge in Index, WA
The view from the bridge in Index, WA


As we were enjoying the view, the International Space Station appeared and arced slowly across the sky. I captured it with a 30-second exposure.

ISS from Index, WA
ISS from Index, WA


When darkness fell, we were graced with a breathtaking view of countless stars.

It's full of stars!
It's full of stars!


This time of year, the Milky Way forms a large arch from East to West. Every photograph I took captured a bit of our galaxy.

Milky Way
Milky Way


Looking up
Looking up


A piece of galaxy
A piece of galaxy


The expanse
The expanse


The last picture captures a wide field of view and encompasses several targets I’ve photographed, including:

The expanse, annotated
The expanse, annotated


I leave you with this video I made about chasing the Milky Way:

Post categories:

Travelogue

Related tags:

milky way