Astrophotographers often refer to this time of the year, from mid-autumn to mid-spring, as ‘Milky Way season’. That’s because, during this time of year, we look towards the centre or core of our Milky Way Galaxy. It’s dense with stars and stretches across the dark night sky in country WA. Astrophotographers love it.

The Milky Way is best seen when there’s no moonlight and you’re away from bright city lights. You’re looking for a band of cloudy or dusty-looking light stretching in an arc from the southeast to the southwest. It looks like a cloud, but billions of stars make up the Milky Way Galaxy, our home in the Universe.

In early evenings in June, the Milky Way rises from the southeast and stretches right across the sky to the west. By July, August and September, the core or heart of the Milky Way is high in the southern sky. By October and November, the Milky Way begins to set in the western sky.

When and where to look:

Well after sunset on moonless nights are the best times to see the Milky Way. Look to the south east and south west. Here are our top picks for early evenings:

  • From 7.30pm, between 2nd April – 12th April
  • From 7pm, between 1st May – 11th May
  • From 7pm, between 31st May – 9th June
  • From 7pm, between 29th June – 9th July
  • From 7pm, between 28th July – 7th August
  • From 7.30pm, between 26th August – 6th September
  • From 8pm, between 25th September – 6th October

For telescopes and binoculars

The Milky Way is an amazing place to point binoculars. As your eyes travel across the stars, you’ll find all things amazing and beautiful. It’s an awe-inspiring sight and WA is one of the last places on Earth to see the Milky Way in all its glory.

Something interesting

The Milky Way is classified as a spiral galaxy with a central bulge and thin arms stretching over 100,000 light years. Imagine two fried eggs stuck back to back: the centre of our galaxy (the yolks of the eggs) is dense with stars, dust and gas.

When you see that arc of milky-looking light in the southern sky, you are looking through the plane of our galaxy. Imagine you’re sitting near the edge of the fried egg and looking towards the egg yolks, the galaxy’s centre. The Milky Way galaxy’s outer spiral arms (the whites of the eggs) are thinner and contain fewer objects.

From autumn until spring, the Earth sits between the centre of the Milky Way and the Sun. At night, the sky is packed full of stars because we’re looking towards the centre of the galaxy.

Keep watching

By the time the Southern Hemisphere summer comes around, Earth is on the other side of the Sun, between it and the edge of the Milky Way. At night, we look towards the edge of the Milky Way. There are fewer stars, dust and gas towards the edge of the Galaxy, but it’s terrific to lie under warm evenings and see the summer constellations and the summer Milky Way.

Where Can You See the Milky Way?

Experience the awe-inspiring Milky Way under very dark night skies. Choose an Astrotourism Town destination on a moonless night and be inspired with its beauty.