American Electric Power (AEP) owns 60,000 acres of land near Zanesville, Ohio that has been strip mined for coal. They’ve opened it to the public as reclaimed recreation, or ReCreation as they put it, land with hiking, biking, and horse riding trails, camping, and fishing. It also happens to have some the darkest skies you can find in Ohio.
You need really dark skies to photograph the Milky Way. Recently I’ve been so preoccupied with improving my Milky Way photography that I’ve dismissed taking photos on clear nights if the moon is out. Turns out I was missing what these beautiful, clear, moonlit nights had to show me.
May in Ohio is a mixed bag for astrophotography. Temperatures very close to dew point make condensation a concern and the Milky Way rises at about 2:00 to 2:30 AM. Do you stay up all night or get up really, really early? On the plus side, there are very few airplanes in the sky at that time of the morning. Recently we had clear skies on the night of the new moon so I got up at 1:30AM to drive down to Hocking Hills, meet another photographer, and to try out a new location and a new filter.