|Ancient Light, Westmoreland, New Hampshire|
Finding the Milky Way is an important step in getting great images of the night sky. I've found a nice program that makes the search much easier.
This week is the International Dark Sky Week, to focus attention on the growing impact of light pollution on our ability to appreciate the
|Old Faithful Geyser & the Milky Way|
Searching For the Milky Way
|Nice Stars but No Way|
When I first started capturing images of the night sky, I was stunned by how brilliantly the Milky Way exploded into my images. With the
|Milky Way Rising Over Mt Hood, Oregon|
There are many good night sky programs, which are wonderful for identifying constellations and planets, but often these are not great for locating the Milky Way and predicting the sky’s appearance in different locations on specific nights. If the program does not show the Milky Way, it is helpful to know that it is most prominent between the constellations of Sagittarius and Scorpio, but this doesn’t provide a sense of the full display across the sky. Enter Stellarium.
I haven’t done an exhaustive search but I have found a great free-ware program that does a beautiful job. It is a bit like a nighttime version of the Photographer’s Ephemeris. Stellarium is a free open source
|Stellarium : Chesterfield, NH|
|Milky Way, As Predicted|
Stellarium is one of those rare programs that beautifully solves a specific problem and it is FREE. Give it a try. You will find many other interesting features. One of my favorites is that, when you click on a star, the program tells you the name of the star and its distance in light years. The program is not a glitzy multimedia experience. I doesn’t offer high resolution images of the planets or other nighttime features, but for dynamically following the sky, it is great. The program is currently available for Mac, PC and Linux. An iPad version is out there but it doesn’t seem to be available in this country. I’m sure there other programs that work similarly. I would love to hear about them, but you can’t beat the price.
Wish for some nice clear weather over the next couple of days and get ready to get up early.
Stellarium Web Site