Children are undoubtedly life-changing. With their entrance into a family often comes a pause on time-consuming hobbies. The hobby I found myself setting aside when my first baby arrived was night-sky photography (also called astrophotography). Similar to a terrible night of teething, night photography requires being awake when the rest of the world is snoozing. Feeling already stretched as a mom, I couldn’t comprehend how I could be a functional parent after spending a night driving to dark skies, taking photos, and then driving back home.
Making it Work
After seeing a Morrison Outdoors baby sleeping bag, I realized that I could cut out the driving if I brought my kids with me and spent the night wherever I was taking photos. A few weeks later, we were up in the mountains in a spot picked out for its nighttime view of the milky way.
As the sun set, I got my kids ready for bed and dressed my youngest in his new sleeping bag. My son is overwhelmingly adventurous so a bonus with the sleeping bag was that he couldn’t run around once it was on, and he was able to wind down in an exciting place.
Once my kids were snoozing, I said goodbye to my husband and headed out to take photos close by our tent. Knowing my son was warm and cozy, I was able to focus my mind on my camera settings and gear (while also keeping an ear out for any nearby wildlife). When I finished up, I was able to sneak back into our tent unnoticed, having spent only 30 minutes busy in the night instead of the hours I would have spent if my kids weren’t sleeping nearby.
Tips for Parents Wanting to do Milky Way Viewing or Photography:
- Go at least an hour away from city lights.
- Coordinate your viewing when the moon is low or out of your view of the night sky completely.
- Use a night-sky app to find out where the Milky Way will be in the sky since sometimes it can be blocked by mountains or trees.
- Let your eye find some satellites (they look like stars but move across the sky in a steady path) and if you’re lucky, some shooting stars.
- If you want your kids to join in, consider camping in late summer or early fall when the sun sets earlier, and the milky way is up early in the night.
Hayley Haws is a landscape and wildlife photographer living in Utah with her husband and two kids. Raised in the desert by two Canadians, she has a love for the outdoors that she hopes to pass on to her kids. Follow her on Instagram or at HayleyHaws.com.