Looking for the Milky Way – Part 3

Posted on Juni 19th, 2014

teaser3Today on the third part will come to the final end with the starscape image. on the first part I showed you the requirements for the best sight and on the second part I wrote about hiking up to the destination.

The work begins

on the top

Finally on the top, although Bubu seems to be still fit

As everything looked great I quickly went back inside toput on warm clothes, because outside was a nasty, cold wind. Bubu the little rascal was quite restless, as he was the whole evening. I think in the restaurant it was just too loud for him and he could not lie down to sleep.
But now
we went out and walked the short path to the lookout hill next to the building. Backpack on the bench, Bubu bound to the bank with the 10m leash, and off you go.
Build tripod,
put camera on it, and take a test shot at 6400 ISO with 30 seconds exposure time, to see what there is to see.


What a mood, before the sun get down

Wow, there it was, our galaxy, the Milky Way. It was still a little far in the east, but in the end, it should be directly above the Säntis at 2 o’clock. Right now, it could not be seen very bright because of light pollution in the region of Lake Constance. But we still have plenty of time.
Camera back down and mount the tracking
device for the real shots. Bubu is still whining. So, camera back on and off you go with a long time recording over 120 seconds.

Unexpected events

burning sky

The sky is burning, awesome!

While waiting, I noticed that my little furry friend still whines and shivers. What is his problem? Also caressing and cajolingdid not help. If he continues this way, it’s going to be a problem.
Wow, cool, I see it, the Milky Way. Still a little far to the left in the light pollution, but really good to see. And yet another
shot, this time for the foreground without tracking. And Bubu is still unhappy. I start realising that this dog isn’t really suited for mountain trips.
But I’d like to have at least one more nice picture. So I change the lens and mount the Samyang 14mm on the camera.. Now another 3 pictures of about 3 minutes. Slowly Istart worrying about my little friend.

hiding sun

The sun is hiding at the horizon

He’s still whining, so we start packing our stuff quickly and head for our two-hour return trip. Aaaand behold, as soon as we are walking on, everything seems to be absolutely OK for this little stinker! I think this little rascal had just been bored.
After two hours we were back at the car.
Thanks to my good hiking shoes my feet kept dry, but Stefan has gotten a big load of water and dirt inside as he stepped into a mud hole.


Nearly everything was correct, the weather was exactly as it should be, even at the right time. The viewing angle was also perfectly chosen. Were it not for someone who didn’t like the whole thing. Well, next time might probably stay at home. For sure!

So I wasn’t able to get as many pictures as I wanted, and the ones I’ve got are not as perfect as they could have been an hour later, but … just look at the results. No more words needed…

Ah yes, my furry monster spent the next 24 hours sleeping, except for a really short walk he didn’t want to do anything else :)

Looking for the Milky Way -Part 1
Looking for the Milky Way -Part 2
Looking for the Milky Way -Part 3

Milky Way

And now the great final: The Milky Way with the Saentis massif in the foreground


Looking for the Milky Way – Part 1

Posted on Juni 17th, 2014

teaserToday in the first part I will show you the requirements for the best sight. In the second part I will write about the hike up to the destination and part three will come to the final with the starscape image.



The signposts are showing you the way

This year I have decided to take more pictures of the milky way. But this is not so easy, because it is hard to see a lot of stars here in Central Europe.
First, the immense light pollution
is really annoying. The I can deal with it here in Switzerland, by going to the Alps. But this has to be well planned. Because the most interesting part of the Milky Way is the center and this part can only be seen just above the horizon. So it’s not a good idea to stand in the valley directly in front of a high mountain.


Thereby we can think about images of the Milky Way, there are some requirements we have to consider.


It is important to know where to look. The Milky Way is not always seen in the same direction as the Earth’s rotation pushes it about midnight from east to the west over the South Pole. So we need a view towards south. After searching a bit, I decided to go for the Kronberg, which lies directly in the north of mount Säntis, so we will see the Milky Way rise over the Santis.

Earth’s axis

Hiker with dog

Before you reach the peak you have to walk

Then we come on to the next problem, the Earth’s axis. Only if the direction of the Earth’s axis against the Milky Way is favorable, you can see the middle part also during the night. It doesn’t help anything when the middle part would be visible only during the day, then you see nothing. Anyway, in the northern hemisphere we can see only half of it. And the farther north you are, the less you see.

Light conditions

Säntis massif

Looking back to the Schwägalp and the Säntis

And on it goes with the conditions. Because the Milky Way is not very bright, no moonlight should interfere, which limits the time to a few moonless nights a year. Between early May and late July, you can see the middle part, so I have 4 new moon phases. The best way to see the movement of the Milky is to look it up using a star map. I did that with the great app “Star Walk”, which is available for iOS and Android. And I’ve found that the Milky Way is most beautiful between midnight and 3 clock in the morning. Thus, we have only a small time window in which the moon may not shine. There are a few days in either direction of the new moon that give the opportunity to meet these optimal conditions.


Clouds over mountains

Sometimes the weather was not looking very friendly

Everything considered OK, but then it can still go so wrong! Wait a moment, didn’t we forget something? Let me think sharp.Ah, exactly, the weather. And here we are at the core of all the problems: How often do we meet clear nights just when we need them? Rarely! Really really rarely.
And so it happened also during the whole time window
at the beginning of May. Also in the next time window at the end of May, it looked really bad. But then at the very last possible day was clear weather announced for the night between midnight and 3 clock.
So pack
the backpack, ask colleague who is surprisingly available, and this time we hope the weather service is right for once.

Read more tomorrow in part 2 about the burdensome way up to the destination.

Looking for the Milky Way -Part 1
Looking for the Milky Way -Part 2
Looking for the Milky Way -Part 3