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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Astronomy & Celestial Talk 
Thread started 23 Feb 2018 (Friday) 12:17
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Shooting the milkyway / astroscape when moon is up?

236 posts
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Joined Jun 2012
Location: Solna, Stockholm, Sweden
Feb 23, 2018 12:17 |  #1

So, tonight is probably going to be the first clear night for a couple of weeks!

But the moon is going to be up all of the time that the forecast says it will be clear. (Half-phase moon)

Is it any idea that I go out to shoot the milkyway? Or is it going to be impossible / the shots ruined by the moonlight?

(Lots of snow on the ground as well so it will be reflecting a lot)


Feel free to correct my English. I'm from Sweden ;)

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Senior Member
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Joined Oct 2015
Post edited 3 months ago by DesolateMirror.
Feb 24, 2018 05:47 |  #2

It gives a very different look. It's hard to get bright stars, specially if there's anything in the atmosphere (fog/etc) that will scatter the moon light and make the whole sky very bright compared to the stars. Long sky exposures when there's a bright moon can end up looking like daylight shots.

If you're not putting yourself out too much, try it and see what you end up with. There might be a period where the milky way is still in the sky and the moon hasn't risen yet or a period after the moon has set that you can get some milky way shots.

If you go on flickr and search for a popular wide angle like 14mm and moon and snow or snow stars moon, you should get some good examples of what you can expect. Here's a couple I quickly found:​/photos/sanjoy87/68981​99756/ (external link) …umlichtfabrik/7​048539623/ (external link) …30802791@N07/16​421636756/ (external link)

"Looks rough and well used"
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Joined Feb 2013
Location: Florida
Feb 24, 2018 06:56 |  #3

I would not bother trying to capture the nebulosity of the milky way during a visible lunar phase. You will just expose up the glow of the sky as the moon reflects light off the upper cloud layers and you'll only see the brightest stars (Sirius) and very little of much else. As you expose longer to make up for it, you'll just bloom and oversaturate the moon and it will wash everything out.

Instead, just enjoy the night, or photograph the moon as a composite with a landscape or something.

You could image during the lunar phase for deepspace, but only in narrowband.

Very best,

My Flickr (external link) :: My Astrobin (external link)

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Joined Nov 2012
Location: Sydney, Australia
Mar 13, 2018 05:05 |  #4

As the others here have already pointed out: it's not worth your time to even try to capture the Milky Way if the moon is present unless you can get your shots BEFORE the moon rises. After the moon has risen, its bright sunlight reflected from the lunar surface illuminates all the dust and pollution suspended in the air, significantly brightening the sky enough to kill your view of the fainter stars. However, you can use the opportunity to photograph the moon rising or some moonscapes.

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Shooting the milkyway / astroscape when moon is up?
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