I must admit I get a little bit sad when this happens as it means a long wait until it appears again in the eastern sky to begin the whole process again sometime in the early hours of February/March. This re-appearance is certainly a true test of the dedication of the nightscape photographer. Seeing the bright core of the milky way rising vertically in the south east at about 4am in late February may be too much for some but I have to admit that some of my most treasured times under the stars have happened at such early hours.
Milky Way Rising in the South East in February
Nikon D610 14mm @ f2.8 20 sec exposure ISO 2500
This image was taken on February 18th 2015 at 4.18am and perfectly illustrates my point. It was one of the quietest and most serene scenes imaginable. Obviously there are very few people out and about at that early hour, but I found myself quietly pondering the simple but somehow important things in life whilst taking in the view.
We are truly blessed in our part of the world with fantastic viewing opportunities for the best part of 9 months through our Autumn, Winter & Spring night skies. Many folks in the Northern Hemisphere only see a portion of what we enjoy.
It takes a bit of time to understand the unique aspects of the night sky, especially the way the stars appear to travel through the sky as the year rolls on. It is a challenge, but it's certainly one worth taking on. Once we understand the way it all works we have no trouble locating this magnificent sight no matter what time of year we are out stargazing.
So my suggestion is to go outside, look somewhere in the south western night sky and wave goodbye for another year to the milky way. Summer is upon us with it's long hot days and short mild nights. Of course there are always great things to see in the sky whatever the season, but I for one am counting down the days until the beautiful, majestic milky way core once again rises in all it's glory in the eastern sky.