Peak Milky Way season is almost upon us here in the Garden State!
Here are the BEST dates and times when the Milky Way and the galactic center will visible for the longest in the sky.
Best Dates & Times for the Milky Way in New Jersey
March 28: 2am-5:13am
April 18: 12:37am-4:34am
April 25: 12:09am-4:21am
May 16: 10:47pm-3:48am
May 23: 10:19pm-3:40am
June 13: 10:28pm-3:26am
June 20: 10:31pm-3:26am
July 18: 10:16pm-3:06am
August 15: 9:33pm-1:16am
August 22: 9:20pm-12:48am
Days for maximum visibility really peak from mid-April through July. Lucky for us, those are usually the warmer nights in New Jersey!
See the whole chart for East Coast Milky Way times from Capture the Atlas here. It features days which the Milky Way is visible for only a short time, moon rise and moon set times, galactic center arch position, and more.
Here are some tips for shooting the Milky Way from our veteran photographers if you’re just starting out, or if you just need a refresher.
Your Camera Settings Are Super Important
There’s a formula to calculate your maximum exposure time to avoid showing motion — something very important when shooting Milky Way photography.
500/(Your Focal Length x Crop Factor of Camera) = Maximum Exposure Time.
If you’re unsure of your crop factor, here it is:
- Full frame sensors have a crop factor of 1x
- Crop sensors have crop factors of 1.5x or 1.6x (Depending on make and model)
For more on how to get the best Milky Way pictures, check out the latest from Mike.
Location, Location, Location
Obviously, you have to shoot at night. Those times above will give you the best shot at getting, well, the best shot.
But areas near cities will give you nothing but light pollution, so try and pick a spot in North or South Jersey in the mountains or at the beach away from civilization.
You can see tons of stars on a clear night in Ocean City or Long Beach Island.
Stars, the Milky Way, and even planets are able to be seen in areas with VERY low light pollution, and on nights when a new moon has just started. Check out part one of our astrophotography guide for more.
Our map has plenty of places to try out if you’re just starting. If you have a new addition (that you want to share with the world) let us know!
Sometimes we say your gear doesn’t matter, but in this case, it might be best to come prepared.
Have any more tips? Let us know in the comments. And happy shooting!