I captured this 9-shot panorama of the Milky Way from Shenandoah National Park last night, on a night so clear and dark that the band was hard to miss with the naked eye. This view captures a full 180 degrees with the galactic core (right) rising up from due south and arching over the horizon to just shy of due north. The brightest spot on the horizon is the Washington DC metro, about 75 mi away.
Fade Into Dawn || Big Meadows, Shenandoah National Park, VA
The Milky Way fades away to the rising sun at Big Meadows in Shenandoah National Park. Capturing the stars can be not only a challenge near DC (due to light pollution) but in the summer months as well, due to the short time between sunset and sunrise. This shoot kept me awake the entire night, shooting from about 1am to just after sunrise around 5:30am.
The sun rises on the horizon from atop the Blue Ridge Mountains at Shenandoah National Park. After a long night attempting to shoot the meteor shower (largely a bust), we were treated to this incredible view before we headed back home for some much needed sleep.
With the night sky vanishing at the hands of light pollution, it can be disheartening to think of the beauty and awe that we're missing out on. I found this spot that just amazed me atop the Blue Ridge mountains that shows the dichotomy of the night sky, between what we see, and the vast beauty that lies above.
The Milky Way rises above the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park. As one of the few places in the Mid-Atlantic with minimal light pollution, Shenandoah is a sanctuary for astronomers and dark sky lovers. Thousands, if not millions, of stars are visible to the naked eye, and many more shine through the aperture of a good lens.
This view puts into perspective just how tiny we really are... and this is just what you can see through the lens of a DSLR. Seeking out a dark night sky and seeing the Milky Way in person is an experience that will fill you with awe and leave you wanting more. Jupiter is the larger white object near the bottom left.