Highland (Cape Cod) Light with Full Milky Way Arch

August 21, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

In my last blog post, I wrote about how lucky I am to have yearly vacations to Cape Cod, MA. Luckily, 2022 is no different, though we did have a short change of plans to the start of this year's trip when my son tested positive for Covid an hour before leaving. A little late, but we still made it up north, and while I did not get out exploring with my camera as much as I normally do, I was able to have one incredible night to capture a panoramic image I had been planning for a while, using the Photo Pills app on my iphone.

Highland Light (also known as Cape Cod Light) is the oldest and tallest lighthouse on Cape Cod (though it isn't really that tall if you ask me - my childhood favorite, Old Barney, on Long Beach Island, NJ, would tower over Highland). The house attached to it is classic Cape Cod and helped add more interesting features to the photograph. The location is North Truro, MA, which is one of the few true dark sky areas on the east coast where you can actually see the milky way with the naked eye. It is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore.

I finally had a crystal clear night just before the trip ended, and headed an hour north from where we were staying, to try to capture this image. Photo Pills helped me know that the galactic core of the milky way would be visible starting at 10pm on this night, and I would only have a short window before the arch rose too steep into the sky to capture the full north-to-south arch. I was able to position myself at the corner of a fence in=front of the lighthouse keeper's home, which created a great angle front and center in the image. Some light from the house snuck through the fence, creating a few faint strips of light on the dirt path to the left side of the image, and the actual lighthouse lit up the trees to the right side of the image.

I took a series of six images spanning north-to-south in order to create the panoramic image in full, and I am extremely excited about how it turned out. It is the clearest image of the milky way arch I've ever been able to capture, and there are 5 shooting stars in the image as well with a few more noticeable than the others. I tried getting a number of series but the condensation kept building up on my glass from the ocean air and I had to keep cleaning it between shots. In the end, this one series was all I needed.

This panoramic photograph is for sale in my store for a limited time.

Shot with a Nikon D850 and Rokinon 14mm prime lens. :25 exposure, f/2.8 and ISO 5000.

Highland Light (AKA Cape Cod Light). The present 66-foot-tall brick light tower, keeper's house, and generator shed replaced the previous structures in 1857. An enclosed walkway connects the tower and the one-and-one-half-story, L-shaped, Queen-Anne-style keeper's dwelling.

Erosion of the steep cliff throughout the years brought the present light station around 100 feet from the cliff's edge by the early 1990s. Using funds raised by the Truro Historical Society combined with state and Federal grants, Highland Light Station was successfully moved 450 feet back to safer ground. After the 18-day move, the light was relit on November 3, 1996, and is an active aid to navigation. Today, the keeper's house features a gift shop and museum exhibits and a dedicated staff provides tours of the tower.


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