Photos of starry sky at CO's darkest places

Posted at 9:47 AM, Apr 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-11 11:47:20-04

For the past several months, I’ve been interested in starting a new hobby.

These pictures are my first shots at something called astrophotography. Basically, the concept is to go into areas of the state where there is no light and take pictures of the stars in the sky and beautiful night scenes. The way this is done is by using a digital camera capable of taking very long exposures, like 20 to 30 seconds.

My first couple of times were a bit of a struggle, but I’ve learned to avoid roads and to head to places where light pollution doesn’t exist. The results have been pretty cool.

Check out all of the photos in the gallery above

See the picture with the house and the bright band of stars above it? That’s actually on of the arms of the Milky Way, the galaxy we are in. At certain times of the year and later in the night, the center of the galaxy can be in full view which results in stunning images of light.

The pictures where the stars are bright and the foreground is lit up are a trick called “light paint.” That’s done by waving a flashlight back and forth quickly over the foreground subject until it appears lit up in the final shot. Using a 20-30 second exposure, you can see I was able to light up quite a few aspen trees in a couple of my shots. The concept of light painting can also be seen in the smiley face and heart my cousin and I drew at night.

My favorite places to take pictures are anywhere that’s farther than 60 miles from a major city center. Some of the shots in these pictures were taken west of Boulder.

The heavily wooded pictures were taken in a national park near Jefferson, Colo. In the plains, one of my favorite places is near Last Chance. Head south of the small town and there are a series of hills that help block the wind.

One more cool thing: the picture that has blue soft light, but almost looks like daytime with the stars still visible was taken when the moon was about half full. Moonlight can block the view of many of the stars in the sky, and gives a “daytime” look to long exposures because it shines so much light.

I still have a lot to learn about astrophotography. There are a lot more tricks I would like to try. I just have to wait for a cool, clear night with no moon and little wind. I hope everyone enjoys a look at these pictures!

This was written by Denver7 reporter Kyle Horan. You can catch him in our early evening shows from 4 to 6:30 p.m. on weekdays and on weekends. See more of his photos on his Facebook page.

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