Best Dates & Times for Milky Way Photography in New Jersey in 2022

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.

  • May 25 through June 2 – Late May and early June bring a stretch of time where the Milky Way is visible all night with no moon influence. You can begin to see it around 10 PM looking East South East.
  • June 21 through June 30 – The Milky Way is near-vertical this time of year, rising in the southern sky. Although it rises earlier in the evening, around sunset, the ability to photograph it begins around 10pm.
  • July 24 through August 1 – The timing is good, as the new moon is in the middle of the week allowing perfect opportunities on the weekends on either side. Again, around 10pm is the best time to start shooting with the core setting around 3am.
  • August 21 through August 30 – A good time to shoot but note it sets around midnight so the window of opportunity is shorter

Information Provided by Dennis Maida Photography

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 below. 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 Matt Baron (@mattbaronphoto) and 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!

Be Prepared

Sometimes we say your gear doesn’t matter, but in this case, it might be best to come prepared.

Using an app like PhotoPills can help you plan your shot perfectly, and bringing gear like a tripod and dressing warm can make sure your night goes as planned.

Need gear? Check out our recommendations.

Have any more tips? Let us know in the comments. And happy shooting!

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