The Milky Way & The Matterhorn

Astrophotography is something that I have become very excited about over the past 2 years. My recent trip to Zermatt was planned specifically to take advantage of the dark skies in this area. I had researched the position of the Milky Way in relation to the Matterhorn and coordinated my arrival during a time when there would not be a moon in the night sky. In addition, I booked a room in a mountain hut near Stellisee. The lake is about 10km away from Zermatt and 1,000 meters higher in elevation, where there is very little light pollution. All I needed was for the weather forecast calling for clear skies to be correct…and fortunately it was.

In fact, the sky was perfectly clear. I do not think I have ever seen so many stars…they were everywhere! I was thoroughly entertained for about 2 hours, watching the Milky Way slowly move across the sky from left to right, getting closer to the Matterhorn every few minutes. I captured this image just before the galactic center started to fade down and away behind the mountains.

Even in this environment you still find some light pollution. The lights from Zermatt below as well as lights from the Italian side of the Matterhorn were enough to illuminate up the lower part of the sky. I think this actually worked to my advantage though, as you can more clearly see the silhouette of the Matterhorn and the surrounding peaks.

The Matterhorn is massive and normally dominates the skyline as you walk/hike around the area. However, in comparison to a galaxy of over 25o billion stars towering overhead…it appears much smaller.

It was an amazing night and after getting a few hours of sleep (only a few), I was back at this same location to capture the sunrise image I shared a few weeks ago - Candlelit.