How to photograph the Milky Way?

It can be admired on starry nights where there is very little light pollution. It looks like a Milky Way crossing the sky, hence the name: The Milky Way. But beware, due to its low light, photography requires specific equipment!

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[EN VIDÉO] The first image of the Milky Way’s central black hole, Sagittarius A *
EHT has just unveiled the very first image of our galaxy’s central black hole, called the Sagittarius A *. This astronomical monster of 4 million solar masses is located 27,000 light-years from us, and its shadow has a diameter equal to 15 times the Earth-Moon distance!

That The Milky Way means galaxy where we are, spiral galaxy : more precisely, we are in one of its arms called Orion27,000 light-years from the center, where the famous black hole is located Sagittarius A * recently photographed.

The entire sky we observe actually corresponds to the Milky Way from the inside, but this pale white stripe that we associate with this name is one of the densest parts of the galaxy and actually contains thousands ofstars and deep sky objects! photograph it Capturing all these small points of light first requires a long exposure time, to achieve the sharpest possible image, but also a large aperture on the lens. But no need for professional equipment, it is quite possible to take a beautiful picture with a consumer camera, or even a smart phone !

The settings to be made

First of all, you need to be able to make manual adjustments, so whether it’s on yours smart phone or your camera, use a mode M or equivalent that allows you to adjust each parameter yourself. Then come the different settings:

  • That focal length: that is what defines the point of view of the image: the more focal length is lower, the wider your point of view and will allow you to see the Milky Way as a whole.
  • To opening : It defines the amount of light that your device will let in. For an object as weak as the Milky Way, it is therefore necessary to maximize. In practice, the aperture is defined in your camera by an F / N ratio: the smaller the N, the larger the aperture. So an opening of f / 1.8 would be ideal, but until f / 3.5 you have a chance to get a very nice picture!
  • Then comes exposure time, or speed closes: a time of 15 to 30 seconds is recommended, all with a stand or a sufficiently firm support to ensure that the device or smartphone does not move. This will capture much more detail than with an instant image. Note, too long will blur the image due to the rotation of the earth. To get the ideal value we can use Rule 500: 500 / focal length = maximum exposure time.
  • For sensitivity ISO, it is best not to adjust it to the maximum because it will make noise digitalbut to set it high enough that it brings luminous details: between 1600 and 6400. But if light sources other than the stars are present (the Moonor street lamps or other artificial elements), the ISO should not be too high so as not to highlight these light sources too much.
  • Finally last adjustment, but not least: the focus. Two options are available to you: a so-called “infinity” focus, if possible, and if not, focus on the brightest star. To do this, zoom in on the star as much as possible, then focus manually, that is, adjust until it appears as small and sharp as possible.

Once the picture is taken, depending on the area of The Milky Way targeted, you can see it in colorsbecause the densest part is full of clouds molecules that seem boring tooeye naked but colored in the device! Otherwise, retouching is possible to breathe new life into the colors of the image, but for that it is necessary to first have a file in .RAW.

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