Shooting the Milky Way in South Florida / by Alex Gesse

I grew up reading magazines on astronomy, watching tv series, reading science books, and my dad is also into that stuff and here and there he would tell me something cool that I didn't know and that would make me wonder about it for hours. The universe is just so freaking amazing ;)

When I started looking up photos online on web sites such as 500px and Flickr, I discovered photographers who were posting amazing images of the night skies, the milky way, star trail and etc. I think that played a major role in getting me interested in photography. I wanted to take those kind of photos, I wanted to take beautiful images of the milky way and say, I did that.. I took this photo.

However, to photograph the night skies it's important to go as far away from city lights as possible and I live in a well populated area, South Florida. I first thought it was impossible to take good photos of the milky way here in South Florida, most of the photos I saw online were from the west in places such as Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California.. especially in the desert and mountains, but I was wrong..

It's possible to get nice images of the night skies from South Florida as well, the Everglades National Park is a great location to capture the night skies. The Everglades is a huge park and the farther you go into the park the better it gets. This past year I went there with a friend, it was my first time there attempting to get a shot of the milky way, but we didn't really plan much, we just picked an area by looking on google maps and drove there. Once we got there and got out of our car and looked up, there it was, the milky way really visible to the naked eye. We spent about 2 hours there.. oh.. don't forget your repellent, seriously.. DON'T!!

With better planning and a better research on locations, you can get really incredible images of the milky way with nice foregrounds, something we struggled with, we didn't find a nice foreground when we were there, but again.. we didn't plan much.

There are 3 ways to enter the park by car, we drove to the main entrance located in Homestead.

Also, this week the IDA or International Dark-Sky Association announced that they have recognized the first protected dark location in the state of Florida, the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park. This is great news for stargazers. I will plan a visit to this park later this year when the Milky Way will be at its best time to be seen, around the midyear. You can read the IDA article here.

Here are a few shots I took this past year from the Everglades National Park....