October: a perfect month for shooting the milky way!

All astrophotographers are probably looking for the best conditions to shoot the night sky. Dry and cloudless, that is.

September as been exceptionally dry and warm in Denmark, and when you think Fall has just hit us, it's gone again. Well sort of... Nights are definitely getting colder and longer, but the start of October as given us 4 nights in a row with record high pressures for the season, meaning that the atmosphere was crystal clear, which doesn't happen very often here because of the location and the sea bringing a lot of haze and moisture. I did not hesitate a minute and sacrificed a lot of sleep to get as many shots as possible and try as many different settings and areas as possible. It was also the occasion for me to dust off my Equatorial mount iOptron SkyGuider, which enables my camera to move along the rotation of earth and thus avoid star trailing. I can also open longer, which allows me to stop down 3-4 f/stops for deeper depth-of-field and sharper stars! (Along with avoiding vignetting and abberation)

I had always wanted to perfect my technique, and I have been waiting a long time since last year to do it. I started a small project, which was to showcase the easy-to-shoot areas of the northern-hemisphere milky way at different focal lengths. Here is a little tutorial from Ian Norman, who explains way better than I do about how to begin in astrophoto: click here.

I shot the whole project at Sanddobberne in NordvestSjælland. There is less light pollution and the milky way shots gave good results. The first noticeable area with the naked eye is probably the shield (Scutum) constellation in the lowest part of the MW in the South-South-West after sundown. It is really bright and is made of beautiful oranges, yellows and dark brown/black (hydrogen) gases that block our view into the core of the MW. The second significant region is probably the Cygnus area with the recognizable triangle just above your head. The Sadr (central star) and the north american nebula regions are really colorful and give us the opportunity for easy astrophotography. No filter was used, and still the red colors and bleu hues are gorgeous!

If you continue along the milky way towards the north, you can find Cassiopea and the Andromeda galaxy, but I decided to try and find another subject I have never tried before, the fainter Heart Nebula and its 'neighbor' the Soul Nebula both in pink and blue. I found it hard to shoot the subject right inside the milky way, because it's many stars outshine the fainter objects. All my shots were way to bright and I had to considerably lower the lights! I am still on my way to improving.