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Moab UT (at City Hall)
38O34’ N Latitude
109O33’ W Longitude
4048 ft - 1234 m
The Challenges and Delights of Photographing the Night Sky
by Luna Shyr


for April

(The time of sunrise and sunset assumes a flat horizon. Actual time may vary depending upon the landscape.)

Since ancient times, the night sky has been full of mystery and a source of fascination. Some early civilizations, living under naturally dark skies that are far less familiar to many people today, envisioned the stars as part of a solid dome that touched the Earth at the horizon. It’s easy to see why: True outdoor darkness has a depth you can sink into, with innumerable pinpricks of light embedded in the blackness.

Pursuing the perfect night-sky picture takes stamina, research, and often hours of travel, according to Jack Fusco, a photographer who has given talks and attended Canada’s Jasper Dark Sky festival for eight years. Accessibility to dark skies is the biggest of many challenges, he says, along with planning, timing, and the technical aspects of night photography.

But even surprise locations closer to civilization require fortitude: For one shot of the Milky Way framed by a sea cave in Malibu on the California coast, Fusco spent hours on Google Maps researching cave locations, and driving and walking beaches, and still more time working out when and how the Milky Way would be oriented in the sky. Then there were weather and fog conditions to take into account, in addition to the tides, for safety reasons. (During a recent desert shoot, he also encountered scorpions and a rattlesnake.) He often fuels up on coffee to push through the night.

“One of the reasons I love it so much is it’s very peaceful and relaxing,” says Fusco. “There are also moments where it’s very exciting—every time you take that first photo and see how many stars your camera captures. That’s why I’ve been doing this for 10 years and still get excited about it.”

But looking up and finding wonder doesn’t need to be limited to those occasions when you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, or the moments when meteor showers and comets grace us with us visit. As Vincent van Gogh, whose master piece immortalized The Starry Night, put it: “For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me want to dream.”.

Moab Dark Skies’ mission is to promote the appreciation and conservation of Moab’s valuable and rare dark skies. Moab Dark Skies was established by the Friends of Arches and Canyonlands Parks in conjunction with the National Park Service and Utah State Parks Division of Natural Resources.

For more information, check out our Facebook page.

Apr 11 - New Moon at 8:30 pm
Apr 20 - First Quarter at 12:58 am
Apr 26 - Full Moon at 9:31 pm

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