3 weeks ago
On June 17, 2019, the National Park Service and the International Dark-Sky Association announced that Grand Canyon National Park had officially received its International Dark Sky Park certification. (You can read more about that at the link below.) So, I was rather pleased to begin our trip to Arizona with a stop at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. On June 9 (Sunday), we arrived at our room at the Yavapai Lodge at 10 pm, and after a 2-hour power nap, Michelle Hansen met me to show me around and to keep me from falling into the canyon. She succeeded at both.
I hadn't expected to be able to get the canyon in any shots from the South Rim because the Milky Way was mostly oriented to the South, but because the Moon wouldn't set until 1:09 am, I was wrong. This panorama is from the very first series I shot that night (or rather, morning) at 12:46 am, and the 51% illuminated Moon was casting a cute glow toward the East, faintly decorating the canyon walls.
Also, I hauled a tracking mount across the country with me, but I never ended up using it; the skies were dark enough that you could even see the Milky Way from the parking lot of the lodge.
I'm shooting from the very end of Yavapai Point, which is at the bottom of a slight pitch leading out into the canyon, and I didn't take the time to level my camera for this panorama properly. This is mostly why the horizon isn't level. (I don't have enough of the sky at the top of the frame to force it level.) Also of note: it was very windy there. Like, distressingly windy. The breeze on the point would end up chasing us to more peaceful air as my tripod was really not stable (like, the same tripod I use on the roof of the Vehicle Assembly Building wasn't stable enough for Grand Canyon winds), and a bunch of grit was sandblasting us.
This is the first of many Milky Way shots I'd end up taking over the next couple of nights, and I'll post them over the coming days.
Three single images merged to a panorama in PhotoShop, all shot with a Canon 5D4 and a Rokinon 14mm lens at ISO2500, 20-secs and f2.8.
Press release about the Dark Sky certification here: www.darksky.org/grand-canyon-national-park-officiall