Facts about Milky Way Photography that will make you sound like a pro.

Photographing the Milky Way galaxy can be a fun and exciting thing to do, especially bringing a few friends together on the journey and explaining to them about the cosmic, it does feels like an "on the field" study in most cases.

I've put together some fun facts about photographing the Milky Way for you to share with your friends, so that you can sound like a pro whenever your friends inquire you about it.

- Our journey to Indonesia in search of the Milky Way, "Project Jalan Susu" was the first ever expedition for DOAM Studio. (Jalan Susu is a direct translate of Milky Way in Bahasa)

1) What is the Milky Way? Can we see it in Malaysia?

The Milky Way is our home galaxy. Earth rotates around the sun, and the sun rotates around the center of the Milky Way. It takes 1 year for earth to finish an orbit, but it will take up to 65 million years for sun to finish its orbit. The last time the sun is in its current position, dinosaurs was still roaming the planet.

Yes we can see it in Malaysia, in fact we can see it everywhere on earth as long as the condition is dark and cloudless. (We are literally inside the Milky Way, of course we can see it when we look up!)

2) If we can see it all the time, how can I have never seen it?

Short answer : Light Pollution in cities stop us from seeing it.

Long answer : The best location to be able to see the Milky Way with your eyes is in rural and dark areas, far away from light pollution. The ideal condition is you are at least 15km away from the last major light pollution.

3) What is Milky Way season? Why summer is the best time?

Milky Way season is just what photographers refer as the optimal time to shoot the core of the Milky Way, it is not a real season. Furthermore, summertime in Malaysia is ideal to shoot the core, due to it is often less cloudy, and the core of the galaxy will be visible throughout the night, therefore giving you a higher chance of seeing it. This happen to all northern hemisphere countries, however calculation might vary depend on the latitude you are in.

-Core of the Milky Way visible in Mersing, Malaysia

4) Core of the Milky Way? What is it?

Not a lot of people have seen the full picture of Milky Way including most photographers, because to be able to see it with your eyes you have to have a 100% complete clear sky, and far far away from any light pollution.

- Our team capturing the Milky Way on top of Mount Bromo, 2300m above sea level.

I was on top of Mount Bromo during summer 2018, and it was my first time seeing the full Milky Way available to human on earth. It stretch from one end of the horizon, pass through the top of the sky and land on the other end of the horizon.

What we were seeing is the core of the galaxy, the brightest part of it, also the most-photographed part, because it is the easiest part to be seen.

5) Can I still see it after the season?

You will still be able to see it after the season, but you won't be looking at the core, instead you will be looking at the "arm" of the Milky Way, or some of us might say the "tail" of Milky Way.

It is less brighter than the core and harder to see with naked eyes. We also refer this as the "Winter Milky Way", - but do take note that the summer and winter we mentioned here is for the northern hemisphere.

- A picture of Milky Way's core above a live volcano in Mount Bromo, Indonesia

6) How do we shoot the Milky Way, can I shoot with my phone?

I would say the 3 most important things for shooting Milky Way is : Tripod, Long Exposure and RAW.

For phone photography, make sure your camera is able to shoot RAW, and can open its shutter for at least 25 seconds. The lacking of any of these 3 will mean a significantly lower chance to capture one.

7) What lens is best for shooting Milky Way?

It all depends on the style you are going for. However generally speaking we want a wider lens possible, because a wider lens gives you more room for long exposure before you get star trail, longer exposure means your camera can get more lights from the star, therefore a better image.

-Image of star trails, more on shooting beautiful star trail images in future posts.

8) What is Star Trail?

Remember one simple fact here : Everything in the universe is moving. The earth is constantly rotating around the sun. If you camera points at a part of the sky for too long without moving, the stars in your image will appear as a line, not a dot, thus the name Star Trail. This is because the planet is moving, and so does everything else up there.

BONUS: Can I see shooting stars when shooting the night sky?

Yes you can in most cases. In fact there will be roughly 3-5 shooting stars visible in the night sky every 20 minutes. Small asteroids are constantly entering the atmosphere and burnt up before it hits the ground, this happens all the time!

- A documentary about shooting Milky Way in Malaysia made by our team.

So now you have some facts in your pocket, time to gear up and go hunting!

Share this with your friends and let them know what you think.

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