The Best Milky Way Photographers of the Year Show the Beauty of Our Galaxy

“Desert Nights” by Peter Zelinka. Alabama Hills, California, USA.
When I’m traveling through California, I always make sure to stop by the Alabama Hills. This is one of the most iconic locations in the western USA, with its incredible snow-capped Sierra Mountains, unique rock formations, and dusty roads.
In June, I spent a few nights camping in the desert beneath the stars. Once the Milky Way was shining brightly overhead, I wandered through the brush and found this unique arch.
“Double Arch” by Pablo Ruiz García. Picos de Europa, Spain.
This spectacular arch-shaped rock formation is located in “La Hermida” gorge, in the Picos de Europa mountain range in Spain.
At first, my initial idea was to capture the galactic center inside the arch, but finally, I decided to shoot the two arches overlapped at this time of the year (late spring) when the Milky Way is still not too high in the sky.
“Elemental” by Miles Morgan. Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii, USA.
During my trip to Hawaii, we were typically up around 2:30 am, and playing all day and well past sunset out on the lava flows. On this particular evening, after shooting the sunset, we checked Stargazer and saw that around 3-4 am, many of the planetary elements would be aligning around the plume at the Halema’uma’u crater.
Even though the skies were covered during most of the night, we happened to be at the right time to capture the lava and the Milky Way

“Enchanted Monastery” by Ramón Morcillo. Ávila, Spain.
The idea of shooting an old monastery under the Milky Way in the Spanish mountains was just hanging around my head for months. I was fascinated by the idea of planning this image; having the Milky Way arch above the ancient and lonely bell tower. The monastery was an Augustinian convent founded in 1504 and called the “Monastery of Our Lady of the Crag”. A few hundred miles drive followed by a long walk and a challenging climb and bushwhack ended in this beautiful and magical place where I could capture our galaxy arch.
“Good Night Utah” by Julio Castro. Kanab, Utah, USA.
After visiting this location in 2017, it became my personal obsession to take a photo there, mainly because I couldn’t take any night shots since the place was very remote.
In May, I decided to go back and try to take the photo I had in mind. After a very cloudy night, just before dawn, the sky opened up, and a spectacular starry sky gave me the opportunity to take this picture with the arch of the Milky Way above the “wave” of rock that seems to surround the two hills, creating an almost perfect circle and allowing me to get the photo I had dreamed of.
“Heavenly Throne” by Ryan Smith. Southwest USA.
I took this picture with the Canon EOS Ra; a mirrorless astrophotography camera that has a built-in infrared-cutting filter (positioned immediately in front of the CMOS imaging sensor), which permits approximately 4x as much transmission of hydrogen-alpha rays vs. standard digital cameras. This allows to capture more details of the night sky and the Milky Way, and really makes a difference in astrophotography.


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