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Capturing Milky Way Moments

BY David Houggy | April 9, 2018 | Feature Features

Photographer Joe Kyle spends his summer nights outside compiling hundreds of images to make one stunning celestial scape.
A computer-controlled camera mount avoids blurring of the images that would otherwise occur due to the rotation of the earth.

Even in the summer, it’s cold on top of Independence Pass in the middle of the night. But that doesn’t deter Joe Kyle (joekyle.net) from creating a breathtaking photograph of the Milky Way galaxy. Over several months, Kyle spends more than 15 nights camped out on top of the 12,095-foot pass, carefully focusing in on parts of the galaxy to get the more than 70 images he needs for one final photograph.


It is a solitary hobby, interrupted only by wandering wildlife and the occasional car stopping at the parking lot alongside Highway 82 on top of the Continental Divide. “I’m camped out off of the trail a bit, so people usually don’t know I’m there,” says Kyle, “but I can hear them as they look up, oftentimes seeing the night sky with no light pollution at altitude for the first time. ‘Oh, wow!’ and ‘Oh, my God, look at that!’ are the common refrain. I haven’t run into a mountain lion yet, but I know they’re out there and just hope they leave me alone.”

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