Lanyon Quoit Under The Milky Way

There are a number of apps for your phone that will help you locate where the Milky Way with it’s ‘band’ of gas and stars will be on any given night. But the core of our galaxy is best observed in the summer months here in the northern hemisphere. I use an app simply called Planets, within lies a 3d live sky map, just wiggle the phone about above your head, and the Milky way can be pinned down.

You’ll need a clear moonless night – phone apps can help here too, I use one called Clear Outside – so you can plan your trip in advance.

Third, find a location as far from a town or city as possible – not easy here in little Britain – cos you don’t want light pollution to get in the way, of course. Lastly, don’t shoot the Milky Way on its own – its been done a sqwillion times, find yourself an object or an interesting foreground. If it’s an object, make it an accessible one so you can paint some light onto it – more of that in a mo….

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So then….You’ve got a clear night, you’ve sussed where the MY is gonna be. Now you’ve got to worry about camera settings, and working in the dark.

Here’s where your smart phone will come in very handy – cos it’s got a torch. The first thing to do is lock focus on your foreground subject – a hard thing to do if it’s pitch black. So simply turn on your torch and illuminate the subject, leave the phone resting on it with the torch on – and focus.

Then….and this works 99% of the time. ISO 3200. F3.5. 30secs. Any longer and the Earth’s rotation will blur the stars too much.

During the exposure, run up to the subject and VERY BRIEFLY, shine the phone torch on it. How briefly will take a few goes….

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Varying the exposure a little with give you different intensities of stars, and by the power of physics or something, varying hues.

Practice makes perfect. Go forth……

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