For astrophotographers, the sky is more the target than the limit. Through their lenses, we’re able to see our galaxy in a way that our naked eye cannot perceive. One of the most popular and recognizable targets in the sky is the core of the Milky Way Galaxy. Using thoughtful compositions of spectacular views, the best Milky Way pictures wow us with their beauty, inspire our own creativity, and remind us of our place in the grand scope of things.

We compiled this collection, featuring images from around the world, to inspire your photography in 2020. If you’re interested in learning how to take your own amazing Milky Way pictures, you can find in-depth tutorials in our specialized Milky Way workshop.

Let the inspiration begin.

Nicholas Roemmelt: Website | Instagram

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CLIMBING THE SHARK ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ I know, there is only one „WEG DURCH DEN FISCH“ (the name of a famous climbing route. The best translation would probably be : „Way through the fish“) and this climbing route is located in the southface of the „Queen of the Dolomites“ the Marmolada. Anyway, this glacial gate instantly had reminded me of a gigantic shark and thus for me it’s a photographic homage for Hansjörg Auer, one the best climbers of our time, who unfortunately had been killed in an accident while climbing the Canadian Mountain Howse Peak (together with David Lama and Jess Roskelley) last year. Hansjörg Auer from Ötztal in Tyrol, one of the best climbers of all time had managed to climb the 37 pitches route „WEG DURCH DEN FISCH“ 9- (7b+) free solo (that means no rope or any other belaying technique) 2007, which was a milestone in climbing history. Rest in peace Hansjörg!

However, our really short pitch in the ice of the glacier is of course not as difficult at all, but I instantly had this picture in mind as I had seen the glacier gate for the first time. I couldn’t help myself but that compact and overhanging ice shield had to be climbed . 
Anyway, on the panorama you can see Christina climbing the „shark“ and me belaying. The hardest thing for me was belaying and triggering the remote at the same time hahaha …

You definitely should view that panorama on the biggest screen possible as there are so many details in here … so you may head over to Facebook to have a look there ;-) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
??? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ @nicholasroemmelt ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ …………………… ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ . #glaciercave #Eishöhle #Milkyway #nightscapes #nightshooters #weownthenight #rsa_night #addicted_to_nights #nightscaper #ig_nightphotography #intothenight #supreme_nightshots #ig_shutternights #night_excl #nightphotography_exclusive #thehub_night #night_captures #ig_nightphotography #night_shooterz #igpodium_night #welcometonature #neuehorizonte #earthofficial #jaw_dropping_shotz #beautifuldestinations #nightphotography

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Stefan Liebermann: Website | Instagram

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Review 2018 2. Namibia So far the most impressive trip of my life. This endless wideness, the amazing sun ups and downs and finally this breathtaking wooow mindblowing starry sky. It was like a dream! You really have to visit Namibia <3. Here my favorite image taken on the trip… of course Deadvlei during the night: What planet is this? It is the only planet currently known to have trees. The trees in Deadvlei, though, have been dead for over 500 years. Located in Namib-Naukluft Park in Namibia (Earth), saplings grew after rainfall caused a local river to overflow, but died after sand dunes shifted to section off the river. High above and far in the distance, the band of our Milky Way Galaxy forms an arch over a large stalk in this well-timed composite image, taken last month. The soil of white clay appears to glow by reflected starlight. Rising on the left, under the Milky Way's arch, is a band of zodiacal light — sunlight reflected by dust orbiting in the inner Solar System. On the right, just above one of Earth's larger sand dunes, an astute eye can find the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our galaxy. Finding the Small Magellanic Cloud in the featured image, though, is perhaps too hard. Panorama of 13 single photos: Sony A7s | Sigma 14mm | F/1.8 | 30s | ISO 5000 #longexpoelite #milkywayscientists #sky_captures #astro_photography_ #nightphotography #earthofficial #night_shooterz #nightshooters #nightimages #pictureoftheday #photooftheday #milkywaychasers #longexposure_shots #night #night_excl #sigmaphoto #newmilkyway #nightscaper #nightskape #africageophoto #longexpo_addiction #africa #africanamazing #AFRICANature #ps_starry #explorenamibia #savetherhino #namibia #natgeo #sonyalpha @longexposure_shots @longexpoelite @longexpo_addiction @longexposure_pix

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Julio Castropardo: Website | Instagram

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JulioCastroFotografia ==================== . Titulo – Un sueño hecho realidad Localizacion – Utah, EEUU Author – Julio Castro Pardo ==================== . Desde que visite este lugar en 2017 y no pudiendo hacer fotos aquella vez siempre he pensado en volver a esta remota localización del estado de Utah en Estados Unidos.Intentando hacer algo nuevo en esta zona porque no he visto ninguna otra foto fe via lactea hecha en este lugar. Fue todo un reto fisico cargar con el equipo fotografico, tienda de campaña, sacos y 8 litros de agua durante el trekking de 10 km y 1000 metros de desnivel de subida que hace falta para llegar. Aquella noche el cielo no ayudo y estuvo completamente cubierto hasta media hora antes del amanecer que milagrosamente se abrio y nos regalo este magnifico espectaculo. A veces los sueños se hacen realidad… ¿QUIERES APRENDER A PROCESAR FOTOS COMO ESTA? No te pierdas mis tutoriales de procesado en Realizada con: Nikon D810 + Nikon 14-24 f2,8 ==================== . Si quieres verla en buena calidad…. Sígueme también en: ======================== #amazing_pictures #global_hotshotz #awesomeglobe #thebest_capture #awesomepix #places_wow #globalcapture #europe #theglobewanderer #earthfocus #special_shots #epic_captures #master_gallery #special_shots #ig_exquisite #amazing_shots #travellingthroughtheworld #nakedplanet #bestvacations #beautifulmatters #nature_brilliance #landscapes_captures #superb_photos @earth_shotz @citygrammers @travelawesome @master_shots @jaw_dropping_shots @eclectic_sh @ig_spain @splendid_earth @earthpix @earth_shotz @earthfocus @splendid_earth @global_creatives_ @discoverearth #rolleimoments #pictas @rolleispain @milkywaychasers #milkywaypics #weareutah #utahunique

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Elena Pakhalyuk: Website | Instagram

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Космос на Земле? Да, он существует!!? Астрономы и любители ночных небес, попадая в Новую Зеландию забудьте про сон и покой! Здесь небеса словно затягивают вас в свою огромную космическую воронку… и не важно, что -12С и стынут ноги и руки… оторваться и убежать на свидание с подушкой и тепленьким одеялом нереально!?? В ожидании звезд мы провели не один час, верили в айфоновский прогноз ( который там работает безупречно, не то, что в Крыму?). . И вот мы снова собираемся в Новую Зеландию! И будут у нас ледники…и не только это место (будет еще одно, которое никто не снимал…только тссс?). А еще будет много уникальной вкуснятины для ваших фотоаппаратов!??. . Тасман Лэйк, Новая Зеландия —— ???Еще есть места на ФОТОТУРЫ в Новую Зеландию на февраль и апрель-май! Северный и Южные острова! С гейзерами, вулканами, золотыми деревьями, высоченными снежными горами, ледниками, морскими звездами, уникальными птицами и потрясающим небесным космосом!!? . ???По всем вопросам скорей пишите в личку. Мест осталось: 3 на февраль и 4 на апрель.? ———— Amazing sky of Tasman Lake! It was like a fairy-tale to see such a magic sky! I have no words to say how it is fantastic! It is like you can touch the sky by your finger and take one star?. Tasman Lake, New Zealand . ???The long-awaited programs of PHOTO TOURS in NEW ZEALAND for February and April-May are ready! 2 unique author programs! . There are a wide variety of birds and animals In New Zealand – we will also catch all of them with our lenses. . ?Book asap! Write me for details!? 3 places left for Feb and 4 places for April! —— Canon Mark4 + Samyang 14 f2.8 Pano —— ?Фотограф, гид, фототуры, бердвотчинг – Elena Pakhalyuk. ?Photo tours, Photo workshops, Birdwatching photo tours.

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Giulio Cobianchi: Website | Instagram

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. ?"BASE CAMP"? Dolomites, Italy ?? . ?Photography for me is adventure, especially the night photography with snow and stars. In my shots I always try to tell the emotion and adrenaline that I live in that moment. When the night becomes more difficult and dangerous, the spirit of adventure increases in me. . ?This was an incredible night where I looked for something unusual that fully repaid this concept. Everything planned during the organization of the workshop, only the weather could help us and so it was. . ❄️The temperatures were not extreme, about – 7 degrees, all guys were excited to simulate a base camp, take to photo and sleep by waking up with the idea of ​​leaving for an expedition ……dreaming is wonderful! . ?‍♂️I'll always be impressed by the group of guys who shared this night with me, between adrenaline, cold, laughter and photography. . ⛺️A special thanks to @ferrino_official who provided me with the tents and clothing to better face this situation! Thanks to @feisol_europe and @nisiitalia . ✨➡️How do you make your night photography?? . . #dolomiti #dolomitiunesco #dolomites #trentino #longexposure_shots #longexpoelite #nightsky #got_greatshots #special_shots #eclectic_shotz #milkywaygalaxy #milkyway #milkywaychasers #nightscape #astronomy #pp_2s #stellar_shots #astrophoto #jaw_dropping_shots #natgeospace #italiainunoscatto #fantastic_universe #astro_photography_ #rsa_night #outdoorphotography #outdoorlife #skymasters #longexpo_addiction #earth_shotz

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[Related Reading: 5 Quick Tips for Amazing Photos of the Milky Way]

Best Time to Capture Milky Way Pictures

Because of our position within the Milky Way, the core (which is what most people refer to as the Milky Way) is not entirely visible year round. The “Milky Way Season” typically ranges from late February to early October across most of our planet and the season peaks sometime around June.

For those in the Northern Hemisphere, the Milky Way core rises in the South East and sets in the South West. In this region of the world, you can see the Milky Way core before sunrise between February and March. During the summer months, the Milky Way core remains visible through most of the night. Later in the year, the Milky Way core is up before the sun goes down and sets in the evening. The breakdown for the Southern Hemisphere is similar, although the view is markedly different as more of the core is visible in the sky at once.

Mark Gee: Website | Instagram

Mehmet Ergun: Website | Instagram

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?? Diese Aufnahme widme ich allein nur an die Menschen, die für uns in solchen schwierigen Tagen im Kampf gegen Corona Virus in der Front für unsere Wohlbefinden sorgen. Danke sehr, Ihr seid die echten Helden. Und liebe Freunde, bitte bleibt alle vorbildlich zuhause. Viele Grüße Mehmet Ergün ***************** ?? Bu fotoğrafı Corona virüsüyle en önde mücadelede veren değerli insanlarimiza adadim. Tüm doktorlarımıza, hemşirelerimize, bilim Insanlarimiza ve bu savasda katkisi bulunan herkese. Bu savasin kahramanlari sizlersiniz. Sevgili dostlar, lütfen zorunlu olmadikca evden dışarıya çıkmayın ve bu tehlikeyi ciddiye alın. Saygılarımla Mehmet Ergün ************ ?? I have dedicated this photo only to People who are fighting the Corona virus on the front. You are the heroes of this war. Let's say thank you! And dear friends, please everyone stays at home. Best wishes Mehmet Ergün #astrofotografie #astrophotography #astronomie #astrophoto #astronomy #milkywaychaser #milkywaypics #milkywayshooters #milkyway #milchstrasse #photography #amazing #nightphotography #nightphoto #skyphoto #skypicture

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Michael Goh: Website | Instagram

Roksolyana Hilevych: Facebook | Instagram

Pablo Ruiz Garcia: Website | Instagram

[Related Reading: Must Have Apps and Websites for Nightscape & Milky Way Pictures]

Best Places to Capture Milky Way Pictures

Again, it really depends on the time of year to choose the best places to capture Milky Way pictures, but to photograph more of the core in a single frame, it’s hard to beat locations in the Southern Hemisphere. Moreover, the general goal for night sky photography includes avoiding areas with light pollution, which leaves out much of the accessible regions in the Northern Hemisphere. That said, here’s a quick list of some of the best places to go to capture Milky Way pictures.

Northern Hemisphere

  • Canada
  • Western United States (Joshua Tree, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon)
  • Hawaii
  • Northern Africa
  • Unpopulated Regions of Asia

Southern Hemisphere

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Chile (Atacama Desert & Chilean Patagonia)
  • Colombia (Mountain areas)
  • Madagascar
  • Namibia
  • New Zealand
  • Peru (Mountain areas)

Jorgelina Alvarez: Instagram

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Tener cosquillitas en la panza es sentirse conectado con algo; este es mi caso con las estrellas. Si te sentís como yo y querés aprender a fotografiar sumando conocimiento astronómico vení a sumarte a mis talleres presencial y online. ( Dejo mail en mi bio para consultas) Lo llamativo de la foto es el Redomo, que adentro tiene una antena que toma pasadas de satélites polares. Disfruten la fotografía como yo al realizarla!! #milkywaygalaxy #galaxy #nightphotography #milkywaychasers #astronomyy #antartic #nigth_shots#stars #nigthpicture #sonyphotogallery #sonyalpha #landscapephotography #longexposhots#nightphotography#fotografia_nocturna #argentina?? #antartida #sky #nightphotography_exclusive #longexpoelite #milkywayshooters#foto#starlitlandscapes#fotografia #fotografas_latam#sonyimages#universetoday#megafoto_ok#night4view

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Chance Allred: Instagram

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I love New Zealand. Te Hoho Rock. Came away with this shot that I’m happy with and also a sore butt from sitting on the top of that dead tree with my tripod finagled in it for a couple hours.. Camera Info Sony a7riv 16-35GM Foreground 3 images focused stacked at blue hour. 16MM f14 iso 100 5sec Sky 30 images stacked for noise 16mm f2.8 iso 12,800 15 sec . . . . #cathedralcove #newzealand #travelnewzealand #northislandnz #beachviews #capturenz #newzealandfinds #newzealandvacations #landscapesnz #trapping_tones #ig_podium #exploretheglobe #nakedplanet #places_wow  #ig_divineshots #ig_landscape #stunning_shots #nature_brilliance #depthsofearth #dreamful_landscapes #astrophotography #astrophoto  #nightscaper #starphotography  #longexpo_additction #longexposureoftheday #starrynight #igtones #thevisualcollective #milkyway

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Debbie Heyer: Instagram

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On Wildfire we’re gonna ride. We’re gonna leave Covid far behind. Get these hard times right out of our minds. Riding Widfire! Well I finally got out to shoot the stars. Not really the shot I wanted but I had wanted to visit this spot and the sky was clear. Did I mention 35 mph winds! That was fun on the top of this ridge!?? I’m looking forward to the June new moon and more opportunities to be under the stars! Until then I’ll just keep calling Wildfire! #nights_dreamworld #milkywaychasers #nightscaper #milkyway_nightscapes #longexpo_addition #cascadiaexplored #nightphotography_exclusive #astro_photography #igpodium_night #supreme_nightshots #lazyshutters #wildhorsemonument #moods_in_frame #superphoto_longexpo #roamtheplanet #bestdarkphoto #marvel_shots #longexposure_shots @nightphotography #night_shots_ #pocket_nights #night_shooterz #splendid_shotz #night_excl #nikonnofilter #washingtonexplored #exploretocreate @komo4

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Ramon Morcillov: Portfolio | Instagram

Ryan Smith: Website | Instagram

Quick Tips for Capturing Milky Way Pictures

Here are 10 quick tips to help you capture better Milky Way pictures. Each of these concepts is covered in more detail in our Milky Way workshop:

  • Use apps to help plan for optimal times and locations
  • Scout the location in advance to know the lay of the land for both safety and composition
  • Use a fast lens and set a wide aperture
  • Keep ISO at 3200 or under
  • Use the 500 rule to calculate shutter speed: 500/focal length = maximum time for sharp stars
  • Use a tripod to minimize camera shake
  • Turn down your LCD brightness & refer to your histogram to check exposure
  • Set focus to “infinity” and dial it in manually while focusing on a bright light source (such as a star) for tack sharp Milky Way pictures. Take test shots and zoom in to check accuracy.

Melanie Fritz: Website | Instagram

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Estamos en receso de vida al aire libre, de estar en terreno como tanto nos apasiona a muchos con nuestra cámara, cazando imágenes que nos roban el aliento y nos dejan en ese estado de enamoramiento donde siempre queremos más!. Sin embargo, la tierra ha estado dándose un gran descanso de nosotros y el estar siempre invadiendola con turismo.. Nuestras visitas a los hermosos parques, nuestras noches de fogata y nuestros largos y soñados días en los senderos haciendo trekkings entre los bosques húmedos y frondozos y las empinadas montañas que muchos aman escalar. Hagamos que esta espera valga la pena y volvamos para cuidar y preservar nuestra amada tierra. #chileestuyo #chilecaptures #datosdeviajeros #nightscapes #milkywaychasers #acquarium_of_stars #the_night_celebration #fotografia_nocturna #milkywayshooters #nights_dreamworld #parquesnacionales #sanpedrodeatacama #atacamachile

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Peter Zelinka: Website | Instagram

Miles Morgan: Website | Instagram

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Phlegmtastic Voyage – Phlegm created this image. @bruceomori and @tomkualii had taken @ryandyar and I out for a few days of amazing volcano shooting. We were typically up around 2am and played all day until well past sunset out at the ocean entry. On this particular evening, we shot sunset but weren’t ready to throw in the towel. A Stargazer check showed that at 3-4am, many of the planetary elements would be aligning around the plume at Halema’uma’u Crater. So in the wee hours of the morning we trucked up to the park, and perched on the overlook to see how things were looking. Bleak, was the answer. A cloud deck had rolled over the entire summit and blanketed the caldera revealing… nothing. No sky, or even plume. We quickly retreated back to the truck to ward off the surprising cold, and figured we might as well just hang until sunrise in hopes the color might show up. The only thing left to do was sleep. At this point I had been sick for a month. A nasty sinus infection had set up shop in my head, and was just waiting for me to get tired enough to stage a reunion tour. My trip to Hawaii with just a couple of hours of sleep a night was Lollapalooza to my annoyed mucus membranes. I drifted a bit, but a short time later I snapped awake choking on my own snot. I couldn’t breathe at all, which got my attention, so I flopped out of the truck to cough up a fur ball without waking the Boyz. When I composed myself I looked up and saw…. STARS. Trillions of them. Crystal clear skies. “LET’S ROLL” I hollered, and off we went to shoot the galaxy. If I hadn’t choked on my own snot, we would have slept through the show. Some of the best times of my life have been running around on zero sleep with these particular people in this particular place.

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Marco Carotenuto: Website | Instagram

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ATACAMA 2019 ?? “El Gringo” ? Vi presento “Arcoiris”. La “Rainbow Valley” del deserto di Atacama. ? A pochi chilometri da San Pedro di Atacama, c’è questa valle pazzesca, dove sembra di stare su un altro pianeta. Circondati da colori e conformazioni rocciose davvero particolari ☄️ In verità ogni angolo del deserto cileno sembra un posto alieno. Trovarsi circondati da distese di nulla a oltre 4000 metri di altezza, lascerebbe chiunque sbalordito ? Ma questa valle forse è uno dei posti che mi ha impressionato di più di tutto quanto il viaggio. #landscape_capture #landscape_hunter #ig_landscape #landscape_perfection #landscape_collection #lifeofadventure #keepexploring #adventureculture #mkexplore #justgoshoot #exploreeverywhere #adventuretravel #travelingtheworld #epic_captures #splendid_earth #awesomeglobe #natgeoyourshot #natgeotravelpic #ontravelwithus #letsgosonewhere #exploremore #exploretocreate #exploretheworld #traveltheworld #doyoutravel #longexposureoftheday #atacama #cile #nightscapes

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Matthew Saville: Website | Instagram

[Related Reading: 2020 Milky Way Photographer of the Year Announced by Capture Atlas]


We hope this stunning collection of Milky Way pictures has inspired you to head out and capture your own portraits of the starry sky. For more on how to capture Milky Way pictures, with information on everything from which gear to use to editing tips, check out our Milky Way workshop, your guide to nightscape photography.