California Milky Way

California Milky Way Season

If you travel or live in California and you have not studied the night sky it can be overwhelming to know when is the right time to get out and see the Milky Way Galaxy with the naked eye or to create stunning photographs. There are many factors to consider before entering into the night. The Milky Way it’s not bright, and it’s not always well placed to be seen, to see it you will have to use today’s technology.

Fortunately, there are some great tools to help you find a dark place in California, the first useful is the light pollution map and the second is Photographer’s Ephemeris. Use these tools to find the best place.

Select a Proper Time

Have any trip planned for December and hope to capture the Milky Way? You will be surely very disappointed. In the northern hemisphere, the Milky Way is well below the horizon at night in December and January.

Below you can find the best times to photograph or see the Milky Way Galaxy with it’s 3 different shapes: The “Arc”, “Typical”, and “Vertical”.

MONTH MILKY WAY RISES MILKY WAY SETS ARC TYPICAL VERTICAL
JANUARY N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
FEBRUARY 4:00 AM 5:30 AM (AD) N/A N/A N/A
MARCH 3:00 AM 5:45 AM (AD) 4:30 AM N/A N/A
APRIL 1:00 AM 4:45 AM (AD) 2:00 AM 3:30 AM N/A
MAY 11:00 PM 4:00 AM (AD) 12:30 AM 2:00 AM N/A
JUNE 10:30 PM (AD) 3:30 AM (AD) 10:30 PM 11:30 PM 3:30 AM (AD)
JULY 10:30 PM (AD) 3:45 AM (AD) N/A 10:30 PM 2:00 AM
AUGUST 9:30 PM (AD) 1:30 AM N/A 9:30 PM (AD) 12:00 AM
SEPTEMBER 8:30 PM (AD) 11:30 PM N/A 8:30 PM (AD) 9:30 PM
OCTOBER 8:00 PM (AD) 9:30 PM N/A N/A 8:00 PM (AD)
NOVEMBER N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
DECEMBER N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
AD - Astronomical Dusk (Full darkness or the beginning of light)

Select a Location

Here is a list of some places in California to view the Milky Way:

  1. Death Valley National Park
  2. Yosemite National Park
  3. Alabama Hills
  4. Big Sur
  5. Kings Canyon National Park

For other location around the world check these places to see the Milky Way Galaxy.

California Milky Way Photos