Sometimes it doesn’t look as if the Milky Way is going to make an appearance. That’s no reason to put away your gear because you just never know. While you wait, make an image and see what else you can come up with.
There are cloud prediction apps that can help you decide to photograph at night or not. While they can be extremely helpful they are not infallible. Weather.com is a good starting place. That said, my favorites after that are Clear Outside and Ventusky.
Clear Outside is a free app provided by a telescope company in Devon UK. It provides forecasts for High, Medium and Low and Total Cloud by times with color coding for how your astro viewing will go. It also includes information on moon information, Sky Quality, Bortle score and more. You can dial in any location for planning purposes and there’s also a current location button.
Ventusky is an app you can use for free with all the extra information you’ll need including Radar, Satellite images, temperature, wind directions and more. If you subscribe to the Premium features, even more info is available should you need it.
Visiting with a friend in Cortez, Colorado, we decided to try our hand out by the back fence since predictions were for too much cloud cover. Luckily it was high clouds predicted. We hung in there and the clouds parted for a while allowing us a view of the Milky Way. As we were waiting to see the clearing we made images. I always recommend once you are out on scene start photographing and keep photographing until it is time to throw in the towel for the night.
We ended up with a fairly decent photo with the high clouds passing before the Milky Way made its appearance.
Skies finally cleared for us, giving the opportunity the shoot for the Galactic Center. There was a bit of light on the horizon from the town of Cortez which made some of the cloud formations in the Milky Way a little less visible but overall it worked out. I photographed a series of eight sky images and used Starry Landscape Stacker for MAC computers. It’s available in the App Store for about $40 to reduce noise in the sky. The resulting processed image was blended with the foreground for the final photo. If you are a PC user, Sequator is a free download.
Yours in Creative Photography, Bob