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.
Astrophotography is much more appealing if you include an interesting foreground element. There’s an abandoned schoolhouse just 15 miles east of Columbus that sits under a surprisingly dark sky. On a clear moonless night I went to see if I could create a star trails photo there.
After seeing the sky I could capture over Blendon Woods right when the park opens at 6:30 AM, I went back to try an Exposed To The Right (ETTR) time lapse over the stars moving over the park’s goldenrod meadow.