Saturday, August 6, 2016

Milky Way on a Country Road

There is a region north of Huntsville, Texas where the sky is considerably darker than most of East Texas. It measures from a low to a high 3 on the Bortle scale, and is roughly located between the Old Spanish Road (OSR) to the south, Palestine to the north, Interstate 45 on the west, and Lufkin on the east. A portion of it is south of the OSR, not far from my house.

My son and I drove through part of this area last February doing a light pollution survey. I was really impressed with how the sky looked there, and decided to revisit it during the summer. So, the other day we drove out to a spot on the side of a road somewhere between Weldon and Lovelady, about 30 minutes from our house. The view was spectacular!

The Milky Way stood out with very high contrast compared to how it appears at the ObservaRory. It's not quite X Bar Ranch dark there, but it is still very good. Below is a composite image of photos that I took with the DSLR and a zoom lens.

Milky Way, Canon EOS Rebel T3, EFS 18-55mm lens @ 18mm (f/3.5), 6x30 @ ISO-3200, stacked in DeepSkyStacker, color-corrected in Photoshop CS6
Below is an enhanced version that brings out the stars and dust lanes:

Same image as above, enhanced using the Detail Extractor in the Color Efex Pro 4 filter collection, which is part of the Google Nik Collection of filters in Photoshop.

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