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milky way galaxy during nighttime

Dark Skies, it’s not something philosophical, it’s deeply sought after.

Living on the east coast, especially the south, is frustrating, it’s hot and humid during the summer, which can wreak havoc on your equipment. What is really frustrating is the light pollution, it makes my life impossible to catch true night photos.

This is a light pollution map, there is a blue dot, that is where I live… it makes life hell for night/astro photography.

What is pretty insane about this map, if you look, there are a few “dark sky sites” about 6 – 10 (yes 10) hours away from me.

  1. In Georgia! Where I live! Stephen C Foster State Park – See more information
    Caveat, it’s a swamp, and when a lot of great astrological happenings are going on, it’s during the summer. Let’s do the math. Swamp + Summer + Georgia = Dead from mosquitos, ruined gear from fogging/condensation, and… it’s a damn swamp! – 6 hours away
  2. Next UP… WEST VIRGINIA Spruce Knob – See more information
    Caveat, it’s West Virginia… seriously – 10.5 hours away
  3. OOH THIS ONE IS SO CLOSE… Deerlick Astronomy Village – See more information
    Caveat, you need a membership, packages are roughly upward of $200 a month for non-commercial photography use in a shack, where you’re going to be surrounded by a few other shacks with other people doing photography and astro gazing. – 2.5 hours away
  4. The first real possibility, Buffalo National River – See more information
    Caveat, it is in Arkansas, but the upside is that I have driven through this area at night on my way back from Missouri. And there is a stretch of about 80 miles of highway and back roads in northern AR and southern MO that have bortle scale 1 or 2 max. – 9.5 hours to there, but 8 hours to a town that is surrounded by darkness and has lodging that is way cheaper than any airbnb. (I only know because I stayed there overnight)
I mentioned BORTLE SCALE, this is that scale

So where am I on this scale currently?

This is the park by my home in Alpharetta Georgia

Bortle Class 7… what is the difference between Class 7 and Class 1 or 2?

Credit: Harun Mehmedinovic

It makes all the difference in the damn world.

So what does that mean? It means that near the new moon, I need to figure out if it will be feesible to spend a few days in Arkansas, the closest Dark Sky area that has open fields and mountains to be the backdrop. Spending a majority of the night outside, where it won’t be as disgusting temp and humidity wise.

So, I want to plan a trip out to the Cottonwood Inn in Salem Arkansas (I had driven by it, it looked clean, friendly, etc.) It was in the middle of nowhere, yet the town has places to grab a bite, and there is a Walmart 20 minutes up the road in case I need any supplies. There is literally NOTHING for miles in either direction of the town, or after the walmart.

I have a run of the entirety of northeast Arkansas or southern Missouri with no light pollution, the only other places I’ve had this type of freedom of light pollution is out west in the desert.

So, when could i go?

I would need/want to go closer and through a new moon. Here are my options to the end of the year.

July 28th – Might be cutting it too close – Rates would be 65 a night- Roughly $180 for the stay.

August 27th – Possibility, though may have other plans for this weekend – Rates would be roughly $50 a night – roughly $150 for the stay.

September 25th – Higher Probability – $50 a night – $150 for the stay. This would give me ample time to dial in my photography with the telescope, not just the wider shots with the camera.

October 25th – Decent probability – Still $50 a night and $150 for the stay. It’s later in the year, and would have to see temps and if I would need to bring lens/mirror warmer in case it is too cold.

Then these two dates are right out, holidays and such.
November 27th

December 23rd

close up of hand over white background
In the infamous words of Mona-Lisa Saperstein – “MONEY PWEEZE”

So, if you want to help me get there so I can turn out a lot of amazing photos and get them printed and sold to admirers all over the world? Donate here!

I’m flipping a coin of possibly going September or October for this. But I have been talking and talking about doing a photography trip like this for years, I just never followed through.

This year will be different.

Go to my etsy shop and like the shop, if you’ve bought something from me, leave a glowing review! It will be much appreciated.

Sign up for my Newsletter, I don’t spam, I barely do 1 email a month.  However, when I do, it’s good information! Oh, bonus, you get a 20% off discount code to the shop just for signing up, so, kind of a win if you ask me!…/sng-designco-digital-mailing-list

And stay tuned to my online courses on Thinkific.  A lot of great things are coming to help people get into photography, take their own photography skills to the next level, and… not break the bank doing so.

Stefan Glazer
Stefan Glazer

Author, Photographer, Artist, Pug Dad, Podcast Host, Teacher, Friend

Articles: 210

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