Zion Winter Nightscapes

Zion is an amazing park in all seasons.  It also truly gets all seasons, from a hot summer to a cold winter with some great fall color and a colorful spring too.  In February it is cold and there is often snow and ice.  

Febuary is also when the Galactic Core of the Milky Way returns to the night sky.  Or perhaps I should say the predawn sky.  At the February new moon it will rise in the east for a few minutes before the approaching dawn takes away the darkness.

I was up and out at 0300 waiting for it and hoping I could get an image or two.  I went through the tunnel to the east side as I figured the canyon itself would be too deep to get a view of the Milky Way low in the eastern sky.  I went as far east as Checkerboard Mesa and started setting up images and always looking east.  I moved to another location and then another, always looking east hoping to see the core.  Finally I could see it peaking over a peak in the slickrock of the east side.

I set up my A7R with the crop sensor 8mm fisheye.  It does not fill the frame but still gives me a good file size since the A7R has 36mp ( it gets about a 17mp image in crop mode).  Add in the small size of the lens and sharp results and it is one I oftern bring along.  I was able to pick out a few shots and bring out the core in the night sky.  However, before you know it, night has faded.

I spent another day exploring the park and the next morning I was at it again.  This time I decided to stay in the canyon and see what I might get.  I was not sure the core would appear, but hey- I had to try.

So, I went into the canyon to see and as I feared it was so deep that night was fading before I could see it.  That did not stop me from still making images of the towers and temples rising up from the valley floor.  

This is one of those places you cannot help but feeling very small in the universe.  Staring out of the dark and deep canyons at magestic cliffs and up into the bright night sky.

Then watching the dawn break over the area on a cold winter morning is also incredible.  One of those experiences I live for.

All too quickly my three days were over and I had to come back to the world and the business of life.  But all it takes is a look at these images to get my mind wandering the map looking for where I will go next.


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