Milky Way at Mesa Verde

After clouds got in my way at Arches National Park, on each of our two nights at Mesa Verde National Park, I got up in the middle of the night to take pictures of the Milky Way.

Above, on our first night I photographed from the balcony of our south-facing room at the Far View Lodge. At 2:20 am, the Milky Way is more horizontal than vertical. With a 30-second exposure, the glow of distant lights is apparent.

The next night, I wanted to capture the Milky Way more vertical and with something in the foreground. Scouting locations during the day, I saw a nearby parking lot with a serviceberry tree for the foreground, and I returned there the second night.

The photo below was taken at 3:09 am.During the 30-second exposure, I painted the serviceberry with an LED flashlight from the left side, imitating the light painting captured at Arches NP. My first effort at light painting.

I like the purple of the Milky Way center and the the sky transitioning from blue-green to black at the top. Living in an urban area with major light pollution, we don’t get to see this at home. The photo brings to mind the title of an Isaac Asimov novel, The Stars, Like Dust, and the high-resolution image has even more stars. 

Milky Way at Mesa Verde NP

The Star Walk app on my phone was spot-on with its time-based visualization of the Milky Way. The app shows when and where the Milky Way rises above the horizon and how the tilt changes through the night. This information allowed me to to set an alarm to capture the Milky Way shot I wanted and not lose too many hours of sleep.

I was very happy to finally get pictures of the Milky Way after failed attempts in Hawaii and Utah. I like this quote by Michelle Obama from a tennis magazine:

You’re going to learn things like hard work, teamwork, discipline. That’s why playing sports is so important. It teaches you that if you keep practicing, and giving 100 percent in anything you do, you will get better at it, and that’s not just true on the tennis court.


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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

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