The Milky Way maps provided are valid for today and in the next 1000 years!
In this article, I’ll walk you through some of the things you need to know to capture a photo of the Milky Way.
The Milky Way is a very faint target that could easily get lost in the sky glow caused by city lights or even by moonlight. Milky Way enthusiasts usually travel to dark-sky sites to avoid city’s light pollution and schedule imaging sessions when the moon is not visible.
The Milky Way is most prominent in the sky during months of March to May each year, visible to the unaided eye in the southeastern horizon at around 2 to 3 am. The maps below show how the Milky Way would look like in the Philippine sky at various times of the year. You may use your phone to locate the Milky Way using an app called Stellarium.
Take a photo of the Milky Way
Any DSLR camera with kit lens and even smart phones with powerful cameras may be used to photograph the Milky Way. If you are using a smart phone camera, set to PRO or manual mode and lookup these settings. I have outlined below some key steps in capturing a photo.
- Set the lens’ focal length to wide-field (e.g., 18 mm). Milky way is a large target.
- Set the camera’s exposure time to around 30 seconds (you may expose for longer periods).
- Set the f-ratio to widest opening to accommodate more light (e.g., use f/1.8, not f/11).
- Set the ISO value to maximum. You can always change this later to a lower value.
- Check that the camera’s flash remains off.
- Attach your camera to a tripod.
- Set the camera’s focus to manual mode. You can do this by toggling a switch on the side of the camera’s lens.
- Set the focus using a brighter target such as a star. You may use the camera’s electronic display to achieve a more precise focus.
- Point the camera to the general direction of the Milky Way using the maps provided.
- Turn on the camera’s time-delay feature to avoid shaking (10-second delay will do).
- When ready, press the shutter to take a photo. The camera will expose for the length of time you’ve set, in this case, 30 seconds. You may need to shoot several times for proper framing.
Night Sky in Focus Astronomy and Amateur Radio © Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)