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Chasing The Milky Way

Around three and half years ago, I stumbled upon a Facebook post of a beautiful photograph of the Milky Way with Jivdhan fort in the foreground clicked by my friend Umesh.

Those days I used to visit Naneghat and Jivdhan quite frequently for herping. I was mesmerized by this amazing photograph as I had never seen the milky way before in spite of visiting the place almost twice or thrice in a month.

At that very moment I called Umesh and exclaimed.. What photo is that?? How did you shot it?? I asked him to explain the technique as I was sure he would never hide his knowledge. PS : It was Umesh, who helped me clear all the exams from 5th to 10th standard..!

Umesh described and explained everything to me, right from locating the milky way to processing the RAW files. I hardly understood 10% of what he told me that day. To learn it better and understand the basics, I wanted to shoot the milky way with Umesh, for which I had to wait for nearly 8 months to get the clear skies and dark night.

The Panorama shot with Nikon D500 + Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8

Finally, one fine Saturday Umesh called me up in the morning saying, “bhai, today 4 o'clock we are leaving!!!"

We took off from Thane by ST bus and reached Nenghat Trekking point, after trekking for 2 and half hrs in the dark night we reached on top.

On reaching the field, Umesh introduced me to his extremely knowledgeable team mates, Amol, Amit, Hrishikesh and unveiled their entire setup! I was in shock looking at those huge telescopes but it was a big relief knowing I don't have to handle those for shooting milky way.

While the team was busy prepping, I overheard some names like Orion Nebula, Crab Nebula etc. I had no interested in those objects. The only question I had for them was "When will we shoot the Milky Way?", "Around 1:30," they said.

So in the mean time, I vanished into the jungle. In an hour's time, I came across 3 vine snakes and 1 Bamboo pit Viper. I decided to wind up my herping quickly to shoot Milly way.

Bamboo Pit Viper

Exactly at 1:30 am. we reached a pitch black spot, switched off our torches, mobile phones and all the sources of light. We were waiting for Milly way to appear. Since our Team was full of experts, we had to wait for hardly 20 minutes and then there it was! The Milky way!Umesh and the team was right there guiding me to shoot, but still the struggle to get a good frame and a decent picture was real!

It was very satisfying to have an identical shot in my camera which was on my mind since a very long time.

One of the first few shots of The Milky Way. Shot with Nikon D5300 + 18-55mm kit lens

Post this shoot, I have been shooting Milky way whenever and whereever possible. The credit for my improvement in shooting, locating, and processing the milky way goes to the entire team, which has a very misleading name, 'Amateur Astronomy Club'.

I have troubled Umesh, Amol and Amit like a million times at odd hours and they have always been very patient and never hesitated to help me. The level of Knowledge, Dedication and Passion among this group is commendable.

Sharing a photo of the Milky Way captured from the same location where I started learning Astrophotography.

Selfie with The Milky Way Shot With D500 + Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8

Whenever I lie down looking at those gazillion starts overhead, wise words of Mr Neil deGrasse Tyson always comes to my mind..

“Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.”

Shot with Nikon D500 + Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8

Even though I have visited many places having much better sky conditions and a prominent Milky Way, this place holds a special place in my heart, as this is where it all began!!

The Milky Way season is about to start! Get your equipments out and hit the mountains! Wish you all clear skies!!

Stay tuned! The Best Is Yet To Come!

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