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Zion at night

Aldan, Pennsylvania
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Zion at night

Where is the best spot to get some good pictures of the Milky Way at night? Will be there Monday Tue and Wed next week(may 21-23)... I'm not the best photographer but want to try and get some pictures of the night sky. Thanks for any advice! Also, does anyone know the moon phase for next week in Zion?

9 replies to this topic
Sedona, AZ
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for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
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1. Re: Zion at night

Zion is a tight canyon. Night sky viewing is quite limited.

If Bryce is in your itinerary, you’ll find that to be a much better place for night sky views.

utah
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2. Re: Zion at night

You'd want to head to East Zion - Once you get through the tunnel you should have lots of options.

Encinitas...
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for Zion National Park, Joshua Tree National Park
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3. Re: Zion at night

Either east Zion, or Kolob Terrace Road.

You will be under quarter moon in the sky.

https:/…may

North Carolina
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4. Re: Zion at night

Take an image of the central core of the Milky Way as it arches over The Watchman from the Canyon Junction Bridge (also good place for Sunset reflected off of The Watchman with the North Fork Virgin River in foreground).

For your trip May 21-23 the moon will be illuminated @ 49%, 60% and 71% on May 21, 22 and 23, respectively. The moon will set @ 1:54 am and then later for all dates. You want to image the Milky Way after the Moon sets. Normally, you would want to use the setting moon shine to "light paint" the foreground - here being the Watchman - but that is not necessary as the Town of Springdale provides ample - actually excessive - ambient light to illuminate the canyon.

You will see the planets Mars (red), Saturn and Jupiter when you are imaging the Milky Way. The planets will all appear brighter than normal as all are in opposition this year so appear brighter to an Earth based observer.

There will be several flyovers of the International Space Station (ISS) during your visit. The best will be on the evening of May 21 as the ISS will appear @ 21:54:45 on the horizon (you will not see it yet because of the high cliffs in Zion) it will rise to over 74 degrees above the horizon pass the moon @ 21:59:20, pass the Little Dipper @ 22:10:46 pass the Big Dipper @ 22:00:15 and set @ 22:05:20 to the NE horizon. It would make a nice picture of the ISS as it passes over the Zion. See image of the ISS passing between the Big and Little Dippers at my house in NC:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/152544914@N02/24825572777/

What camera and lens do you use for wide angle astrophotography

Edited: 19 May 2018, 01:41
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5. Re: Zion at night

SwimFan - that's some great info. I hope to do a bit of night photography in Zion June 6-8 and a Milky Way shot over The Watchman!

North Carolina
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6. Re: Zion at night

Stephen,

For June 6-8 the moon will rise after 2am each night. The Milky Way should be high enough to image over the Watchman between 1 to 2 am each night. You will also see the 3 superior planets as mentioned above. The ISS will make a flyover on June 7 from the NW horizon @ 21:37:40; it will pass the last star in the handle of the Little Dipper @ 21:42:10 and disappear @21:45:32

What camera and lenses do you use for astrophotometry?

Edited: 19 May 2018, 03:07
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7. Re: Zion at night

Wow - that's great to know. I have a Canon 70D with Tokina 11-20 f/2.8. Not ideal, but I normally am shooting during the day. I'm taking a night photography class with Enlighten Photography Excursions (connected to Zion Adventure Company) on the night of the 6th, so hoping to pick up some great pointers.

North Carolina
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8. Re: Zion at night

Not ideal but a fun combination none the less. Do you have the Canon RC-6 IR remote for the camera? Would make your night shots easier.

Perhaps start with the following exposure with the lens set to 11 mm (your images may be a little soft at 11 mm):

Exposure = 450 rule/(focal length) (crop factor) = 450/11 x 1.5 = 450/16.5 = 27 second exposure will maintain pinpoint stars without noticeable star trailing in the image. As you increase focal length you must decrease the exposure time.

For initial settings for stars with your equipment i would try the following:

70D and 11-20 @ 11mm; f/ @ f/2.8; ISO 4000 to 6400; Exposure @ 25 seconds

Internal camera settings:

Mirror lock up

White balance between 4000 k (blue background) to 4500 k (neutral background)

Noise reduction off

Before your trip determine the correct focus for the lens on stars. It may not be at the infinity mark; if not mark with a piece of tape . Once you know your focus you must determine the combination of ISO and exposure for the image. Only use the histogram to determine when the exposure is correct. The peak of the histogram should be near the middle of the graph. Do not use what your image looks like on the LCD monitor as that is only an internal signal of the picture not what is recorded for future viewing.

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9. Re: Zion at night

Thank you so much for this detailed info! I do have a remote control for the camera, so that should help. I didn't know about using mirror lock up, so that's definitely helpful. And I'll work on figuring out the correct focus this next weekend if we get some decent nights skies here in the DC area. Probably good to practice a bit before heading out of town!

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