My trek to capture the summer Milky Way at Arcadia

July 19, 2018  •  1 Comment

Downeast Maine is home to the most beautiful National Park in the Northeast -- Arcadia National Park.  Located on Mount Desert Island, it encompasses most of Mount Desert Island, and several smaller islands, with a total of 47,452 acres of land. East of the Mississippi River, Acadia NP was the first National Park to have been established. Originally the park was named Sieur de Monts National Monument in 1916.

Arcadia is also one of the darkest sky sites in the northeast!  I had visited the area years ago and I was itching to go back and capture what I call "diamonds on velvet" starscapes and especially the summer Milky Way.  My first destination was Bass Harbor Light which is located in the southwest portion of Mount Desert Island and marks the entrance to Bass Harbor and Blue Hill Bay.  I had visited this spot years ago and it turned out to be my favorite spot because it was ideal for my astrophotography.

Finding a nice overlook area, I was able to view and capture images of the summer Milky Way, which was like milky thick clouds stretching across the sky and the celestial skyscape.  The spectacular southern portion of the milky way's sagittarius region and the teapot was very prominent over the Atlantic Ocean low in the southern sky.  The inky-black skies with protruding "diamonds on velvet" stars, constellations and planets were truly a sight to remember.  Mars was glowing at -2.5 mag and casting a golden glitter path across the water.  The sounds of the wildlife, the waves and the buoy bell as well as the historic Bass Harbor's red light turning and flashing once every four seconds made for a special moment where earth and sky connected and one of my most memorable astronomical and astrophotography experiences.

The automatic revolving and flashing of the Bass Harbor lighthouse "red light" allowed for painting of the landscape in "night vision astronomy red" and further enhanced my earth and sky images. The history of Bass Harbor Head Light dates to 1855, when it was determined that there was sufficient reason for a lighthouse at the mouth of Bass Harbor. In 1885, the U.S. Congress appropriated $5,000 for construction of the lighthouse. In 1876, construction was completed on a fog bell and tower, since removed. A much larger 4,000-pound (1800 kg) bell was placed inside the tower in 1898. The house of the lightkeeper remains in its original configuration with the exception of a 10-foot addition that was added in 1900. The lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Bass Harbor Head Light Station on January 21, 1988, reference number 87002273.

In 1902, an oil storage house constructed of brick was built 205 feet northwest of the lighthouse.  Bass Harbor's fifth order Fresnel lens was replaced in 1902 with a larger fourth order. This lens was manufactured by the French company Henrey-Lepaute. This lens remains in service today.

I was also fortunate to meet a nice family from Fairfield, CT who had come down to my overlook spot at Bass Harbor Light.  After explaining to them my agenda for the night in which I would be camped out the entire night pursuing night-sky captures, they were intrigued and decided to hang out with me for an hour or two.  They had their teenage kids with them and I was more then happy to answer their questions and educate them on astronomy.  

My second night's destination was Otter Point Cliffs located at the southeastern region of Mount Desert Island.  After walking down several layers of stone steps, I found another nice overlook area perfect for my gear and camp out.  Once again, the view towards and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at this altitude was amazing and I was able to connect the earth and sky with my eyes and through my astroimaging.  Here is some information about Otter Point Cliffs:

Otter Cliff, in Arcadia National Park, Maine, is one of the most spectacular sights along the North Atlantic Seaboard. On the east side of the Park Loop Road, about .7 miles past Thunder Hole, is the famous 110 foot high Otter Cliff - one of the highest Atlantic coastal headlands north of Rio de Janeiro. Just before Otter Cliff is a beautiful spot called Monument Cove. Right after this, the road begins to curve to the left. To the right is a small parking area with portable rest facilities. On the other side of the street is a path that leads to the cliff.

I plan on making this trek to Arcadia National Park on Mount Desert Island in Maine, yearly, and feel free to check in on my website at Ronald Zincone Photography to see my spectacular celestial images from Arcadia National Park!


Judy Zakim
Wow! That was us. Unreal that we are actually only finding this (blog and blog post) now. We've been here toy your site many times since meeting and spending time with you at Bass Harbor. You may have noticed that we finally also got around to ordering some pictures from that very night. Our families have been going to Maine, Acadia, and Bass Harbor for years, and seeing the night sky and stars with you was one of our highlights Ron. We talk about it all the time. We are looking forward to hanging the prints we just ordered. Thanks. Happy New year. - Jeff
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