Milky Way at Death Valley

Landscape, Nature, Photography

Death Valley is considered as one of the darkest sky or least light pollution park in the country. As a matter of fact, on February 10, 2013 International Dark Sky Association designated Death Valley National park as an International Dark Sky Park. For this reason, we were not about to pass up the opportunity, fortunately we did have one clear night during our three-night stay. We drove to Harmony Borax Works, a least visited spot, especially at night and try to use the Works as foreground to shoot the milky way. Somehow we were a bit disappointed that the milky way did not stand out very good. Just for comparison, here below was what we got at Arches National Park in Utah on June 26, 2014:


and at Big Meadows of Shenandoah National Park, Virginia on June 12, 2015:


and finally at Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia on October 15, 2015:

Milky Way as ssen form Cabin #31

Milky Way as seen form Cabin #31

It is fun to look for and photograph the milky way in the dark sky – it’s easy and only take 30 second to shoot. I’m sure I will continue look for the opportunity to photograph this beautiful scene.


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A retired professional engineer, nature lover and avid photographer

20 thoughts on “Milky Way at Death Valley”

    • shungphotography says:

      On a clear night, go to where the city “light pollution” is least and look at southeastern direction of the sky (in Northern Hemisphere). Hope you’ll find it! Thank you for your visit to my blog.

  1. I go to a place called Graves Mountain Lodge, not far from Big Meadows. You don’t see stars like that at Graves Mountain. There’s too much light pollution from the lodge. I do recall when I was a child we went to Sherando Lake campground below Waynesboro. The sky was completely different than around home, Richmond, so many stars. Then they decided the campground was too primitive and put street lights in, not only destroying the view from there but adding more light pollution to the area.

    Beautiful photos.

    • shungphotography says:

      Thank you. Yes, light pollution is always problems for night sky photo, especially for milky way shot that requires total darkness to bring it out.

  2. shungphotography says:

    On a clear night, go to where the city “light pollution” is least and look at southeastern direction of the sky (in Northern Hemisphere). Hope you’ll find it! Thank you for your visit to my blog.

  3. shungphotography says:

    Thank you, Milanka. It’s fun to look for and photograph the magical Milky Way, especially when we travel to National Parks where the dark sky conditions are more prevailing. It’s interested to note that Milky Way has been attracted by man even in the ancient time. The Inca people believed the dark side of Milky Way showed Ilama while native Australians thought it depicted an eagle.

    • shungphotography says:

      Thank you. You should also be able to see it in Philippines as I’ve seen pictures of Milky Way taken in Taiwan. Select a clear and moon-less night and find a place away from city light (total darkness) and look up in southeastern direction of the sky.

  4. L Sky says:

    Thank you for posting as it’s helping me understand my own photos from Death Valley a few weeks ago. The results also surprised me (but so did the trucks with their bright, disruptive lights and all the tourists’ loud, giant dogs). Hopefully I’ll get the chance to try again in a year or so. 🙂

    • shungphotography says:

      Thank you for visiting my blog. I tried taking milky way and star trail photos at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and Harmony Borax Works (shown) when we visited there in February 2017. I was not particularly happy with what I got. I am sure Zabriskie Point would have been good spot also. The main reason we selected Harmony Borax Works was the remoteness without the crowd. Like you I’d like to go back to try again.

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