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.
- April 10: 1:32am to 4:59am
- April 17: 1:05am to 4:45am
- May 8: 11:42pm to 4:06am
- May 15: 11:14pm to 3:54am
- June 5: 10:50 to 3:30am
- June 12: 10:56pm to 3:26am
- July 3: 10:58pm to to 3:34am
- July 10: 10:52 to 3:42am
- August 7: 10:11 to 1:55am
Days for maximum visibility really peak from mid-April through August. 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.c
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.
Photo Credit: JT Shimer
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)
This tip comes to us from Patron Matt Baron (@mattbaronphoto) and NJspots writer and podcast producer Mike Scicolone (@mikescic).
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!