Milky Way Calendar 2021 – Best Milky Way viewing planner
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2021 MILKY WAY CALENDARS

+ Bonus: the Ultimate Guide to Photographing the Milky Way

2021 MILKY WAY CALENDARS

+ Bonus: the Ultimate Guide to Photographing the Milky Way

Having a Milky Way Calendar makes planning your photographs much easier.

We all know the importance of planning when you want to photograph the Milky Way. Our galaxy is visible for a certain period of time depending on the month, day, time of day, and latitude. Knowing when is the best time to see the Milky Way in your location is important, but there are more factors to consider.

To help you, every year, we create these Milky Way viewing calendars where you can see, at a glance, the best days to photograph the Milky Way in your location.

Understanding how these 2021 Milky Way Calendars work is super simple. Below, I’ll show you which calendar is best for you and a few tips to make the most of them.

Capture the Atlas milky way calendar 2021

Which Milky Way viewing Calendar should I use?

We’ve created Milky Way calendars for 20 different regions on Earth, so it’s very likely that there’ll be a specific Calendar for your area:

  • UK Milky Way Calendar (Snowdonia)- Latitude 53ºN
  • Northern Europe Milky Way Calendar (Berlin) – Latitude 52ºN
  • Canada Milky Way Calendar (Banff)- Latitude 51ºN
  • Central Europe Milky Way Calendar (Dolomites) – Latitude 46ºN
  • PNW USA Milky Way Calendar (Oregon) – Latitude 45ºN
  • East Coast USA Milky Way Calendar (Pennsylvania) – Latitude 42ºN
  • Southern Europe Milky Way Calendar (Madrid) – Latitude 40ºN
  • Midwest USA Milky Way Calendar (Denver) – Latitude 39ºN
  • Southwest USA Milky Way Calendar (Death Valley) – Latitude 36ºN
  • Southern USA Milky Way Calendar (San Antonio) – Latitude 29ºN
  • Canary Islands Milky Way Calendar (Tenerife) – Latitude 28ºN
  • India Milky Way Calendar (Kolkata) – Latitude 23ºN
  • Mexico  Milky Way Calendar  (Toluca) – Latitude 20ºN
  • Southeast Asia Milky Way Calendar (Bangkok) – Latitude 14ºN
  • Central America & Caribbean Milky Way Calendar (San Jose) – Latitude 10ºN
  • Equator Milky Way Calendar (Bogota) – Latitude 4ºN
  • Indonesia Milky Way Calendar (Bali) – Latitude 5ºS
  • Australia Milky Way Calendar (Sydney) – Latitude 33ºS
  • New Zealand Milky Way Calendar (Milford Sound) – Latitude 44ºS
  • Patagonia Milky Way Calendar (“Torres del Paine”) – Latitude 50ºS

Besides, our Milky Way calendars are based on latitude, so even if there isn’t a calendar for your area, you can still use a calendar from the closest latitude. The data and best days to shoot the Milky Way will be the same; you just have to consider any possible time difference.

You can see the latitude in our list of Milky Way calendars as well as in the bottom-right corner of each calendar:

Milky Way planner

As an example, if you want to photograph the Milky Way in Cape Town, South Africa:

  • Search the region in our Milky Way calendar list. We don’t have a specific calendar for South Africa, but let’s check which calendar you could use for that area.
  • Use this site or do a quick search in Google to see the latitude at your location. In this case, we’ll check the latitude at Cape Town, South Africa:

USA Milky Way Calendar

If you live in a big country with regions at different latitudes, search for your specific location.

  • Now, we’ll look for the closest Milky Way chart in the list with a latitude of -33:

Milky Way Calendars list

As you can see, Sydney is located at the closest latitude to Cape Town. Therefore, the Australia Milky Way calendar, which is based in Sydney, would be the most accurate for your location.

How to use the Milky Way Calendar?

Each 2021 Milky Way viewing Calendar shows the most relevant data you have to consider to see the Milky Way. From left to right, the columns will show you:

Milky Way Calendar Data

Date

Our Milky Way almanac takes as a reference every Saturday night of the year. Please note that, as a rule of thumb, the two days before and two days after each Saturday will be similar.

Ex. If Saturday, July 10th, 2021 is one of the best days to shoot the Milky Way, Thursday the 8th, Friday the 9th, Sunday the 11th, and Monday the 12th will also be good days.

Moon

The moon is one of the key elements affecting Milky Way visibility. Here you’ll find:

  • Illumination: The percentage of moon brightness. We consider more than 30% as too bright to see the Milky Way.
  • Moonrise: The time the moon rises. When there’s “+1” by the hour it means that the moon is rising the following day (Sunday).
  • Moonset: The time the moon sets. The “+1” by the number means that the moon is setting the following day (Sunday).

Sun

Here you’ll find the sunset and sunrise time at that particular latitude. The Milky Way can only be visible in that timeframe.

Milky Way

The time the Milky Way is in the sky. In these columns, you’ll find the start and end time as well as the total number of hours.

Galactic Center Visibility

This is the most important column. It considers the time the Galactic Center is visible considering all the previous factors.

Here you’ll find the start and end time where you’ll be able to see and shoot the Milky Way in the sky, as well as the total number of hours.

The number of hours also determines the best days to shoot the Milky Way, which are marked in three different colors:

  • Dark Blue: Days where the Milky Way is not visible
  • Blue: Days where the Milky Way is only visible for a short time
  • Red: Best days to photograph the Milky Way

We only consider the “best days” to be those with 3+ hours of Milky Way visibility. Please note that some regions like Northern Europe, the UK, and Canada don’t have “best days” marked in red since the max. Milky Way visibility is below 1.5 hours.

Capture the Atlas Milky Way viewing chart

Galactic Center Position

The last column of our 2021 Milky Way planner shows the Galactic Center elevation in the sky. Here you should consider the following:

  • Arch: Any degree of elevation from 0º up to 60º. In this range, you’ll be able to shoot the Milky Way arch in the sky.
  • Vertical: From 60º to 90º. In this range, you’ll be able to shoot the Milky Way as a diagonal or vertical band in the sky.

When you see a negative value like “Vertical (85º) – Vertical (-80º)”, it means that the Milky Way starts being visible at 85º, and it moves until it’s completely vertical at 90º, then moves until it disappears at 80º but on the other side of the sky.

Milky Way degrees planner

Vertical Milky Way band at 90º

Other things to consider

Using a Milky Way astrophotography calendar is key to planning your night photography sessions. However, there are a few more things to consider so you can take the best possible Milky Way images:

  • Cloud Coverage: Check the weather forecast to see the clouds, humidity, haze, and other conditions that affect the night-sky visibility. For this, you can use NOAA or an app like Windy.
  • Altitude: Use Google Earth to look for higher altitudes where you’ll enjoy a better view of the night sky.
  • Seasons: If you want to better understand how the Milky Way changes throughout the seasons check our article on when to see the Milky Way.
  • Places: To learn how to read light pollution maps, the Bortle scale, and how to find the best locations near you, check our article on where to see the Milky Way.

Download free Milky Way Calendar

Conclusion

I hope our 2021 Milky Way calendars help you plan your night photography sessions this year.

If you have any questions about which Milky Way planner you should download, how to use them, or you’d like to propose a Milky Way calendar for a new region or location,  feel free to leave it in the comments!

Happy shooting and clear skies!


14 thoughts on “Milky Way Calendar 2021 – Best Milky Way viewing planner

    • Dan Zafra says:

      Hi Ken,

      We’ll definitely try to create a Namibia Milky Way Calendar for 2022. In the meantime, you can download and use the Sydney Calendar since it’s the closest place in terms of latitude.

      Best,
      Dan

  1. Paul D says:

    I have to admit, I’m a little confused about the angle. Is this how far above the horizon the center is? Is it the angle of the milky way in the sky? Overall though, thanks for these! It is a great help as I start on my night sky photos.

    • Dan Zafra says:

      Hi Paul,

      Yes, that column is related to the angle of the Milky Way over the horizon. That way, using our Milky Way Calendars you can plan when to shoot the Milky Way as an arch or as a diagonal/vertical band in the sky.

      Hope our Milky Way charts help!
      Dan

  2. George Frajncis says:

    Sir I cannot download it. I would like the 2021 Southwest USA Milky Way Calendar please. It just leads to a 404 page after I input my email.

    • Dan Zafra says:

      Hi George,

      We had a technical issue on our site, you should be able to download your USA Milky Way Calendar now 😉

      Happy shooting and clear skies!
      Dan

  3. Dan Tranowski says:

    This looks great, hoping to shoot it this season from mid-central Illinois, Tank You Dan.

    With no specific mention otherwise, am I to assume the times shown (USA) both standard and daylight savings time as appropriate to the calendar?

    • Dan Zafra says:

      Thanks Dan!

      Yes, our Calendars are created considering the DST and other time changes in the local area that we take as a reference.

      Hope this helps and clear skies!
      Dan

  4. Anthony Tong says:

    Dan, you are a legend. Thanks for all these very helpful resources. I’m looking forward to shoot some good Milky Way photos around Sydney this year!

    • Dan Zafra says:

      Thanks Anthony! Hope it helps to capture great images this season!

      You have some very cool and dark locations not far from Sydney 😉

      Happy shooting and clear skies!
      Dan

  5. Albert says:

    That is sooooo useful!
    Thanks a lot mates, this information, all well published and clear, worth a lot!
    Regards from Girona (Spain)!

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