Cougar Lakes Basin, Episode 2, Frank Church Wilderness, Idaho

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We were at our base camp at Ursa Minor for two nights and I was up both nights shooting the incredibly dark skys. It was the perfect time to be in the Frank Church for star photography as it was a relatively warm clear evening and we were in a new moon phase. If you check out this dark skies map, you will see that I was shooting in probably the darkest skies found in the continental US.

As I turned my lens to the south, I found a brilliant Milky Way. One which I don’t remember seeing this clear since I was a kid camping in the Little Lost River Valley. Keep in mind that we were camped at about 8200′ of elevation so we were above much of the atmosphere.

The only way to describe the reflection on the dead calm lake was surreal!!!! I believe the bright star just to the left of the Milky Way is Jupiter. Additionally, I believe the bright light left of Jupiter is another planet, I’m not sure which one, maybe one of my readers can help me out.

I was like a kid in a candy store! Click Click Click. Each image has about a 15 to 20 second exposure so in all, I was out shooting for over an hour.

This next image is shooting towards the north and away from the galactic center so the stars are not quite as dense.

This image is shot due west which is pointed directly out of the Milky Way. Still so many stars and the reflection was stunning.

Finally, as I arrive back at my tent, I took one final shot through the trees.

The second night at base camp, I was back at it. However, on this night, we had a touch of cloud cover which made all the stars seem a little creamy.

Jupiter again on the left but a little fuzzy due to the thin clouds. Notice the planet on the left of Jupiter has changed position relative to Jupiter…… a clue!

This image is shot due North and you can just detect the hint of sunlight spilling over the north pole.

Check in tomorrow for the day 2 edition of Cougar Lakes Basin! I’m working to process more than 400 images so it takes a little time.

2 Replies to “Cougar Lakes Basin, Episode 2, Frank Church Wilderness, Idaho”

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