While vacationing out in the American Southwest I wanted to take advantage of their dark skies and photograph the Milky Way. The only problem was that there was going to be a full moon which washes out much of the delicate starlight I was trying to capture. As luck would have it (for once I didn’t plan this) there happened to be a lunar eclipse during my visit. Of course it happened to be the shortest lunar eclipse of the century but it would still work. The dark sky maps indicated I'd need to travel about 75 miles outside of Phoenix to find a truly dark sky which actually sounds quite miserable at 2 AM. Normally at home in the Midwest I’d need to travel almost 300 miles to find a similarly dark sky so you can see why my attitude quickly rebounded and I hit the road.
I was rewarded with one of the most amazing skies I have ever seen. As the moon disappeared into shadow the Milky Way emerged. The first time you see your shadow cast by starlight is magical. As you can see there was still an ample amount of light pollution on the horizons but overhead the skies were clear and dark. That glowing orange orb in the middle of the scene is coming from Phoenix which was 75 miles away at the time. In this case the light pollution worked out all right as the Milky Way arched right over it. Had the eclipse darkened the skies a few hours earlier though I would have lost most of the Milky Way to the light pollution.