July 14, 2012

How to Capture The Milky Way

Assalamualaikum & Hi,

I want to share some of my knowledge that i got on how to capture the Milky Way, our home Galaxy.There are some steps that we must follow in order to shoot The Milky Way.Here,i divided the steps into two things, The Technical Aspects of Photography and The Astronomical Aspects.

ok,let me share the technical aspects first..the things we need
  • DSLR Camera with lens attached.
  • Tripod
  • Remote Shutter Release (either cable release or remote) this one is optional,if you don't have,just use the timer setting on your camera.This to prevent the camera shake.
  • Torchlight or Headlight. 
    • i prefer headlight with red lamp,acts as night vision lamp and dont interfere with you eyes' dark adaptation at night.mine using this :

here are basic technical settings that i commonly used :
  • ISO : 2000~3200
  • Shutter speed : 30seconds and below
    • in astrophotography,except the star trails,we need to photograph the stars without the stars streaking or making it trails.we use the rule of 600 to determine the optimum shutter speed that can be used.Let say you are using 50mm lens on DX body,it becomes 75mm so,600/75 =8 second,hence the 8 seconds will be the maximum longest shutter speed that can be used.
  • White Balance : Set to daylight @ 4500K
  • Quality : RAW
  • Aperture : The widest aperture possible of your lens. f/2.8,f/1.4,f/1.8.
  • Manual focusing set to Infinity
    • Lens that have the focusing scale are most preferred,so that you can tune to infinity by referring to the scale.
  • Focal length
    • Fisheye lenses are my fave.You can view full sky with this lens.
    • Fast Ultrawide lenses.
    • Fast Prime Lenses 50mm,85mm.You can get the details of Milky Way and nebula...!
Where you can find the Milky Way?
  • in Malaysia,the Milky Way appears every night.What make it "disappear" are the light pollution from cities and moon also the thick clouds.
  • from my observation,the Milky Way rising from South East & setting at North West.
  • you must have the pitch black sky WITHOUT moonlights & city light.Must be 10 kilometers away from light source,otherwise,it will "kill" your milky way.
  • you can see the milky way with your naked eyes as faint glowing band across the night sky.
  • usually we do the shooting when the moon is in the new moon till first quarter & the last quarter till the new moon.
  • must avoid the full moon as it can pollute the sky with its bright light.
  • also,do refer to the moon phase,moon rising and setting to get the precise time when you can do the shooting.
  • moon rising on early morning (3 am afterwards) & moon setting @ early night are the best time to capture the Milky Way as you can have the night sky without moonlight.
  • also consider the local weather,the night sky free with clouds are most preferable.
additional tips ;
  • i use planetarium software proudly named The Stellarium to track where is the lovely milky across the night sky.
  • this software is freeware you can download it from www.stellarium.org . Mac OS , Linux ,Windows compatible.
  • you can track it real time in any locations on earth..what a powerful software..!
  • also you can input the date that you plan to capture and see what happens on that night..! (except the weather)
  • also do explore our universe with this software.
  • you can see the milky way rising from which cardinal directions.
  • do bring the compass if you don't know the cardinal directions.

The Stellarium

Some of my Milky Way collections :

Night @ Kuala Kedah

Night @ Kuala Kedah
The Milky Way @ Gunung Keriang
Stargazing 27th of June 2012

view more here.

p/s : do share & give feedback.also,do inform me if any information stated above are missing its truth or wrong.sorry for my bad english oso. :p


  1. salam tn, blh shoot milky way klu guna lens kit 18-55mm? trima kasih sudi kongsi ilmu

  2. to abiom..boleh..shoot @18mm pada f3.5..contoh mcm ni..saya guna 18mm :)


  3. i have prime lens 50mm f1.8 and i would really love to try it out on top of mount kinabalu. thanks for sharing

  4. Which is the best fisheye lens for olympus micro 4/3 camera?

  5. Askm
    kalau boleh, saya nk tanye dekt mana antara tempt2 pling bagus nk tengk Milky Way
    saya bukan nk ambik gambar tpi saya ade minat dgn Milky Way

  6. gosh! that's amazing!!!


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