What exactly is the Milky Way Planner?

Published on 2024-04-20

What exactly is the Milky Way Planner calendar?

It is simply a table of dates/times that show when the Milky Way Core will be visible above the horizon (without interference from the moon/sun, etc).

When you look at the Milky Way Planner tool (user login required – sign up for free), you can enter a location you are interested in and then select the month and year. An example screenshot of the tool is shown below.

Milky Way Planner - Example using Moby in July 2024 to plan for the Milky Way

After entering your location and selecting the month and year, you can hit “Get Calendar.” After a short time (be patient…it takes a lot of calculations to look at a whole month of dates), you’ll see a table that contains the dates that the Milky Way Core is visible along with the rise/set times and moon rise/set times. An example is shown below.

Milky Way Planning tool - Results for Moab July 2024
Milky Way Planning tool – Results for Moab July 2024

Once the results are displayed, you’ll see the dates that the core is visible, along with the total visible minutes, azimuth, and direction in the sky relative to where your location was set. Additional visual information is provided, giving insight into those evenings with short windows of visibility (shown in yellow in this example that highlights visibility of less than 60 minutes, but can also be shown in red if less than 20 minutes).

What’s next?

After you’ve got your timetables, you can download the data into CSV for planning purposes. I highly recommend using PhotoPills and/or Plan It Pro for on-location planning of your astrophotography photographs.


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Eric D. Brown

Eric is a photographer focused on Landscape and Astrophotography.

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Eric also runs and owns The Workshop List, a service that helps Photographers find students for workshops.