Expert Voices

Utah's Stunning Night Sky (Gallery)

Mike Taylor has been a landscape and studio photographer for over 20 years and teaches night photography and processing technique workshops for the public. Taylor will be following up on his Utah excursion by hosting Night Sky Utah Workshops for the public in May 2015. Taylor contributed this article to's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Utah's dramatic desert landscapes around the outskirts of Moab have very little light pollution, which makes for incredible night photography opportunities. This area of the Southwest is one of my favorite places for astrophotography due to the fact that vast expanses of the area are uninhabited. You know that you are in truly dark skies when you can see the Dark Horse section of the Milky Way with your naked eyes. 

Below are some of Taylor's favorite images captured from Utah, including three that have never before been published. (All images are provided courtesy of Mike Taylor |Taylor Photography.)

Somniloquy 2

This image is a composite of two photographs, one for the foreground and one for the sky. I zoomed in on the Milky Way for the last 10 seconds of the sky exposure to give it the "warp speed" look. Solmniloquy is the term that describes the act of talking while asleep. 

Corona Arch MW and Star Trails 

The Milky Way galaxy makes a dramatic background for Corona Arch, located in Bootlegger Canyon, just outside of Moab, Utah. During this photography workshop, the arch was lit with an orange LED to match the surrounding landscape. There was quite a bit of airglow in the sky that evening. This image is a blend of a single 5-minute exposure for the foreground and 117 frames of a time lapse for the Milky Way and star trails.


An incredible amount of green and a bit of maroon colored airglow are prominent in this 16-image night sky panorama featuring the full Milky Way arc, covering 240 degrees of view from North (left) to South (right), centered around one of the iconic gnarly trees that cling to the top of the canyon wall at Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah. Noctambulism is another word for sleepwaking.

Dead Horse Pt MW Star Trails

This image consists of 80 frames of star trails and one frame of the Milky Way blended together to emphasize the motion of the night sky at Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah. There was an intense amount of airglow in the sky that evening.

Through The Arch

A view of the Milky Way through Double Arch in Arches National Park as a few cars drove through the parking lot.

Dunes MW II

The Milky Way rises above the desert dunes at Goblin Valley State Park near Green River, Utah, while the moon lights up the foreground and creates a "blue hour" glow in the sky.

Balanced Rock MW

The Milky Way rising above the iconic Balanced Rock area in Arches National Park.

Turret Arch Reflections

A rare puddle from an afternoon shower makes for nice reflections along the walkway to Turret Arch in Arches National Park, Moab, Utah. The moon came up as a sliver behind me and offered just the right amount of illumination on the arch and the foreground at 4:00 a.m. local time.

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