It feels like forever since writing a proper blog. Writing for my book unfortunately has taken away a lot of my time and commitments. However, now I’m in the closing stages I’ll be publishing more blog posts and getting back to the norm. My first blog post looks at the Peak District and the Milky Way.

I’m a big fan of astrophotography, always have been. I do think that you have to sometimes be inventive and creative with it. Whatever type of astrophotography you do, you have to be careful not to shoot the same type of scenes over and over.  I always try and seek out recognisable locations and portray them by night. I always have locations in mind, I look for places away from light pollution and often man made subjects although hills and mountains can work. I love shooting the milky way and prefer static shots over star trails, but in the Peak District I’ve always thought the milky way wasn’t clear enough to see due to the relatively close cities of Sheffield and Manchester. I knew you could see it, but I always felt it was faint compared to the likes of Scotland and countries abroad. I was quite naive there, my girlfriend who runs SLP Photography took a picture of Carhead Rocks in the Peak District show casing how good the milky way could be.

The week she took it was perfect conditions for astrophotography, constant high pressure, clear skies and no moon allowed the night sky to be as clear and dark as possible. It was also late July and at this time of year the milky way is fairly high in the sky, due south. August is more ideal but with a holiday pending and weather unpredictable I made the most of it. It was a case of burning the candle at both ends to try and capture some fresh shots. If you search “Peak District Milky Way” in Google, you won’t find much!

First off we went to Magpie Mine, a location I had in mind for a long time to shoot the stars. I had never been before, so finding it in the dark was quite interesting to say the least. On the maps it looked perfect, miles away from any light pollution it seemed the ideal spot. The old mine buildings have an important history of the Peak District but also made for great foreground interest to place against the milky way. Unfortunately, what I hadn’t envisioned was the relatively low height of the location in comparison to the surroundings which meant it didn’t actually exclude the light pollution. It was still possible to see the milky way, but within 30 minutes of setting up the cloud rolled in so it was a visit cut short. Thankfully, I managed to capture both of the below:

Peak District Milky Way

6 thoughts on “Peak District Milky Way”

  1. Really gorgeous images. I’m living in Sheffield at the moment, and I really would like to see the milky way somewhere. But light pollution would be a big problem in urban area of Sheffield. I previously thought the peak district should be a good observing spot, but I haven’t actually tried. So is there any good spot near towns that I can go and observe with bare eyes easily? As I don’t have much equipment, nor with a excellent camera or telescope et al. I think hope and castletown would be best for me. But I would really like to hear your suggestions. Thank you very much!

    Reply
    • Hi Lu,

      Thanks for your comment.

      The Milky Way can be hard to see by eye, especially in the UK but on a night where there is no moon and a clear sky you can make it out if you know what you’re looking for. Check out Stellairum to see what time the Milky Way will be in the best spot to maximise your chances. Unfortunately we are out of season where the Milky Way is highest in the sky with most of the core visible, the summer months are better. Also consider using a star app on your phone when out in the field.

      Check out some of the dark sky spots in the Peak District, such as surprise view which has easy access, but also I highly recommend around the Ladybower area.

      If you want to know more about night photography and locations, my book Peak District Through The Lens has a whole section dedicated on night photography.

      Hope you enjoy your endeavours.

      James

      Reply
  2. Great pictures, I’m surprised that the milky way came out so well.Sheffield and Manchester east and west plus Derby and Stoke to the south, the east Midlands can be rather light polluted, except for Lincolnshire.

    Reply
    • Thanks Kevan – In the Peak District we do have the odd good spot where we can see the Milky Way. All you need are some hills to surround you and a lot of the pollution will be hidden thankfully.

      Reply

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