Moonset and Milky Way, Haystack Rock - Cannon Beach, Oregon
Moonset and Milky Way, Haystack Rock – Cannon Beach, Oregon

Moonset and Milky Way, Haystack Rock – Cannon Beach, Oregon

October is getting late into Milky Way season. But it’s a great time to get clear skies on the Oregon Coast. The weather can be amazing any time of year on the Oregon Coast. But it’s quite common to have a marine layer of clouds just offshore. This marine layer will obscure whatever is at the horizon. This can make it difficult to capture the setting Sun or Moon. I had been planning to get a Moonset and Milky Way photo all year, and October would probably be my last chance for this year.

I wanted to try and get a thin crescent Moon along with the Milky Way for this photograph. I had been at the beach several times this year when the Moon was in the phase I wanted for the photo. But the marine layer always prevented me from getting it. I knew that I wanted a thin crescent moon so that it would not drown out the much dimmer Milky Way. 

Earlier this evening, the Moon did compete with the Milky Way. But as the Moon approached the horizon, I could see that the atmosphere was going to soak up a great deal of the moonlight. By the time it was at the horizon, it was dim enough I could capture them both without having to composite an image for each  – this is a single exposure. I didn’t need to use any low-level lighting to illuminate the foreground. The City of Cannon Beach has enough light pollution that it easily lit up Haystack Rock’s face. My Sony a7III did a great job of containing the exposure range of the subjects!

The Milky Way Core had Set

This photo was taken nearly 30 minutes after the Milky Way Core had set. The Moon was nearly five minutes from setting, but it’s a much stronger image with the Moon still in view. Without it, the moon’s warm glow would be missing, including the long reflection of the beach. Haystack Rock is a great place to get reflections in the sand. The beach sand here always seems to have a sheen of water on it during low tide. I suspect there is a spring underneath the beach, and fresh water is constantly flowing across the beach to the sea. 

To maximize the Milky Way in this photo, I tipped the camera back and aimed it upwards. This, combined with the 14mm Sigma, created a lot of distortion of the foreground subjects – Haystack Rock and the two spires adjacent to it. While some may complain about the rocks looking like they are about to fall over, I like how they point to Milky Way’s direction. 

Camera Info

The photo was taken with Sony a7III, Sigma 14mm DG HSM Art at ISO 3200, f/2.4, at 20 seconds. It is a single exposure, and minimal adjustments were made with Adobe Lightroom. 

This image was featured in my Astro-Landscape Photography Notes for November 2018

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