Predicting the milky way

As a landscape photographer, you need to be able to predict the Milky Way. It’s easy with our app! Learn predicting the milky way with VIEWFINDR.

Galactic centre

Every star you can see in our night sky is in the Milky Way. In fact, it can be seen all year round. In landscape photography, everyone commonly talks about the so-called Galactic Centre, the centre of our galaxy, when they talk about the Milky Way. The Galactic Centre is not always visible. For predicting the milky way, you actually have to deal with the Galactic Centre.

das galaktsiche zentrum der milchstrasse vorhersagen

Predicting the Milky Way: The Season

Our earth orbits around the sun. Therefore, what we see in our night sky is constantly changing. When it is night in winter, we look out into space. The solar system is located at the outer edge of the Milky Way, and that’s a good thing. In the middle of the Milky Way, many uncomfortable things happen that would threaten life on our Earth. During the day, we look towards the Galactic Centre in winter, but the Sun blocks our view.

In summer it is exactly the other way round, because then we are 180° offset on the other side of the sun. In summer, we look towards the Galactic Centre at night and the sun blocks our view of the universe during the day. Predicting the Milky Way is therefore very easy, because the solar system works like clockwork.

predict milky way when the earth

In Europe, the Galactic Centre and the arc of the Milky Way can be seen in the following months:

  • March: in the morning, shortly before sunrise
  • April: second half of the night
  • May: from midnight
  • June: all night
  • July: all night
  • August: until shortly before sunrise
  • September: until midnight
  • October: sinks before midnight
predict the starry sky with viewfindr

Predicting the celestial direction of the Milky Way

Our perspective of the night sky and the Milky Way is constantly changing. For this reason, the Milky Way can be found in a different compass direction every month. In the months of March to October, the visibility of the Milky Way arc with the Galactic Centre, the Milky Way can be seen in the following cardinal directions:

  • March: East
  • April: East to Southeast
  • May: Southeast to south
  • June: Southeast to southwest
  • July: South to southwest
  • August: South to Southwest
  • September: Southwest to west
  • October: West

Our tip: Until we add the functions to VIEWFINDR, we recommend using the free software from There you can simply enter your location and then look at what time the Milky Way is in the sky.

stellarium for the milky way forecast

Geographical Altitude and Galactic Centre

In Europe, the Galactic Centre is only just above the horizon. This is due to the relative orientation of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun and its latitude. An observer in the southern hemisphere can observe the Galactic Centre at its zenith, whereas for us in Europe it is just above the horizon. For predicting the milky way the latitude is crucial.

The further south an observer is on the globe, the higher in the zenith the centre can be seen. Here, too, the software from helps with planning. In summary, the further south you are, the better for observing the Milky Way! High in the north of Scandinavia, the Galactic Centre cannot be observed.

The moon: the most important factor

While predciting the Milky Way, the moon must be scheduled. The light of the Milky Way is very faint compared to the light of the moon. To put it better, the moon is so bright that it makes the atmosphere glow blue, exactly like the sun during the day. Of course, the light of the moon is much weaker, but the effect is still visible. On a full moon night, it is so bright that you can see your shadow and don’t need a torch. The faint blue glow of the atmosphere is brighter than the glow of the Milky Way structures and masks it. The fuller the moon is in the sky, the more distracting it is. The days on which you can photograph the Milky Way are thus reduced to the days before and after the new moon.

The moon orbits the Earth at a rate of about 27 days. Since 27 is not a divisor of 365 days in a year, the dates on which the new moon occurs must be researched again and again. For this purpose, we recommend e.g. There you can simply save all the dates to your smartphone and never forget a date.

The rule for the moon is very simple: when the Milky Way is visible in the sky, the moon must not be in the sky at the same time. In terms of the time of year, this means: In March, the moon must not be visible in the second half of the night, in October not in the first half.

disturbing moonlight at the milky way

Light pollution and the Milky Way

Now that you have found the nights with a new moon and checked to see if the Milky Way is visible during these months, you must find a dark location. Just as moonlight makes the dust and haze in the atmosphere glow, the light from our civilisation’s light sources also makes theWhile prediciting the milky way, a map of light pollution is helpful. You can find one at Look for places where light pollution is low. To do this, look outside the cities in the mountains, where there are fewer villages.

The weather

For predicting the Milky Way, you can plan all the factors months in advance: the position of the Milky Way in the sky, the interfering moon and, of course, a dark corner. The most important factor, however, is the weather. If there are clouds in the sky, it is not possible to photograph the Milky Way. If you have to go to some trouble to get to a dark place and you have to stay awake all night to do it, the sky should of course be free of clouds – if not, it was all for nothing!

Earlier you learned that the Galactic Centre is just above the horizon in Europe. You are therefore photographing at an angle and not directly up into the sky. If you now use a conventional weather app where you enter your location, it will only show you the clouds at the location itself. However, the clouds on the horizon can be dozens of kilometres away and still destroy your view of the Milky Way.

For this purpose, VIEWFINDR has developed its own cloud forecast for the night sky. We calculate the clouds in 3D. We look at the clouds not only at your location, but also in the area around it. Hereby we guarantee that you not only have a local cloud gap, but that the sky from one horizon to the other horizon is free of clouds.

Just check in the VIEWFINDR app just before you leave for your Milky Way photo spot to see if our weather parameter “Starry sky” also shows a cloud-free sky. If this is the case, you can set off with peace of mind.