- Yellowstone In Winter
- Animals/Birds of the Badlands, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks 2016
- National Parks Landscapes 2016
- Animals of Yellowstone/Tetons/Badlands 2014
- Yellowstone/Tetons/Badlands Landscapes 2014
- Animals of Yellowstone/Tetons/Badlands 2012
- Yellowstone/Tetons/Badlands Landscapes 2012
- Animals of Yellowstone 2011
- Yellowstone/Tetons Landscapes 2011
- Yellowstone Textures
- Custer State Park, SD
- Great Smoky Mountains NP
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Utah National Parks
- About Me
After photographing the NEOWISE Comet (see previous post), it was a beautiful nearly clear night, so I went over to a nearby neighbor and took a few photos of their old barn with the Milky Way. Of course, there is always light pollution and haze on the horizon. The two bright planets just above the barn are Saturn on the left and Jupiter on the right.
My first glimpse of the NEOWISE comet last night about a half an hour after sunset while there was still sunlight on the horizon. It becomes more visible as the sky gets darker. The tail of the comet always streams away from the sun, it doesn't indicate the direction of travel. The comet in a huge elliptical orbit around the sun will be visible as the sky gets dark for at least the next couple of weeks (or more?) with a clear sky to the north. It can be seen now to the lower right of the Big Dipper, gradually, each night, moving closer to and into the Big Dipper in the NNW sky. If you miss it this time around it will be back again in 6,766 years.
[Click images to see larger]
It was a peaceful morning in the pre-dawn hours for photographing an old windmill and the Milky Way with a long exposure to enhance the stars toward the center of the galaxy. Jupiter and Saturn can be seen in the lower left of the windmill. Of course, as always there is haze and light pollution on the horizon in North Iowa.
It's a new era as we try to stay safe from rogue viruses. I combine my social distancing with getting some fresh air. I photographed this local barn and the Milky Way at 4:30 AM this morning (with no people around). There was a lot of haze on the horizon and as always in North Iowa farm lights and nearby towns lit up the haze with the long exposure for the stars. There are very few places in North Iowa to find dark skies. The barn was lit by the headlights of a single passing car. Note the three bright stars on either side of the old windmill tower. The bright one to the right is Jupiter and the two between the barn and the tower are Saturn and Mars. The barn isn't really leaning. It is a bit distorted due to the wide angle lens. (This was a single exposure with processing in Lightroom.)
Photos taken at Leech Lake Minnesota Friday, September 27 into the early hours of Saturday, September 28, 2019. With a forecast of Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) there were lots of people out in the upper midwest to view and photograph the 'lights'. They were a little dim to the naked eye, but the camera recorded these with a 25 second exposure time at f/2.8, ISO 2000.
One more try at a photo of the covered bridge at Wilkenson Pioneer Park in Rock Falls, IA, with lots of stars and the Milky Way this time on a clear night. Because of the Earth's revolving around the Sun the Milky Way is now a bit farther to the Southeast (to the right in this photo) than I would have liked for this photo. I'll be back a little earlier in the summer to try again next year.
A starry night and the covered bridge at Wilkenson Pioneer Park in Rock Falls lit by the bright moonlight. Look above the bridge in the second photo and you can see the Big Dipper. The glow on the horizon is from the moonlight lighting up the ground haze. Not visible this way to the naked eye, but records this way with the long exposure necessary to show the stars in the night sky.
[Click images to see larger]
Purple Coneflowers and the Milky Way at Winnebago Oxbow Wildlife Area in north Iowa. Clear skies at night have been rather rare for awhile with storms, high humidity and haze, but I did get a few pictures between passing clouds. When I first saw these coneflowers during the day I knew I had to go back and try this night photo. It took a couple of attempts and I still didn't get a really clear sky. Taken looking a little toward the southwest the glow on the horizon is the city lights of Garner. This image is multiple exposures taken from the exact same location a few seconds apart and blended on the computer. I also donated blood to some of the dozens of mosquitoes that were swarming around me in the midnight hours.
There is a lot to this photo of the Milky Way taken Monday night after the storm passed. Jupiter is the bright planet to the right of the Milky Way core. Saturn is to the left. There is a thunder storm in the distance and fireflies in the lower right foreground. It was a quiet night on a lonely rural road in North Iowa. This is a single 25 second exposure.
Here are a couple of more lightning photos from earlier in the night.
The Milky Way and Jupiter over the Winnebago River (a little closer to home) in north Iowa. Now the rest of the (long) story. I have been waiting for the right conditions to get a photo and time-lapse video of the Milky Way over this spot in the river where it heads straight south. I had scouted the location and knew where to go but needed a clear sky, low humidity, little wind and a moonless night for the period when the galactic center of the Milky Way would be visible. It all came together a couple of nights ago when the crescent moon set early. I went out a little before midnight, got out of the car and was swarmed with mosquitoes so I turned off my headlamp to walk the 20 yards or so through the woods to get to the right spot along the river. I turned on my flashlight briefly along the way to make sure I was in the right spot only to find that I was in the middle of the largest patch of poison ivy that I have ever seen. In the course of setting up the time lapse camera, going home to take a nap then going back at 3:30 AM to retrieve my camera I walked through that patch four times. I did have on my knee-high leg gaiters and boots, but now I was afraid to touch either of them and had to put on gloves to remove them, (and later wash everything in a bucket outside), I have a history of huge breakouts from poison ivy, so I'm waiting to see what happens, but I did wash very thoroughly when I got home. Ugh. The photo turned out okay even though we have a lot of light pollution in this part of north Iowa.
Below is a short time lapse video. I had to edit out a section in the middle because a moth landed on the lens and did a dance. The camera was running on auto-pilot so I didn't see it until I got home.
The Milky Way from Voyageurs National Park, near International Falls, MN. There are hundreds of billions of stars but we see so relatively few of them. It is great to get to an area with a dark sky with very little light pollution from nearby towns or farm lights. The sky was lit up from the stars, but a long 20-25 second exposure helps to enhance the stars.
On our recent road trip to Utah national parks I was able to get out and photograph the Milky Way in a very dark sky in the Mojave Desert in Southern Utah. Only a few wispy clouds, no moon and almost no light pollution. Incredibly bright stars. I've never seen the Milky Way this bright and clear in Iowa because we have too much light pollution, humidity and haze in the air.
One more Milky Way photo, taken at Balanced Rock in Arches National Park, Utah. This was just after the moon set and just before sunrise one night last week. There is a bit of light on the horizon from the city of Moab, but otherwise a very dark and clear sky.
As our Earth races around the Sun there are a few months, from November to February, when the Milky Way is not visible because it is blocked by the Sun. From March to October the galactic center (the brightest part of the Milky Way) is visible in the Northern Hemisphere and best photographed on a clear night with a new moon. I use an app called Photo Pills to determine what time the galactic center will rise above the horizon and the location - southeast sky in the spring, south in the Summer and southwest in the fall. On this night in April it would be visible from 2:03 AM til 5:07 AM and then the sky would start to get light from the rising Sun. Because there was haze on the horizon I couldn't really see the brightest part until about 3:30 AM and later. These photos with the lonely tree and the windmill were taken between 4:30 and 5:00 AM, ISO 1600, f/3.2, 25 second exposure with a 20mm lens and a sturdy tripod. They are single images. I could get brighter stars by using a higher ISO, but would get more noise (grain) in the sky, or use a technique of image stacking by combining multiple exposures in to one. Something to try next time. (Click the images to see larger.)
Just a few notes about my photos. See more on Facebook.