The 2023 best Milky Way photos

By Antoni Cladera

Are you ready to dive into the cosmic allure of the 2023 best Milky Way photos?

There's a unique thrill in exploring the universe through the lens of fellow astrophotographers, isn't there? Capturing the Milky Way isn't just about pointing your camera up to the stars; it's an art that blends creativity, precise planning, and the patience to wait for that perfect shot under the night sky.

Persist, and you'll find that the rewards are stellar – literally! Each Milky Way photo is proof of the photographer's dedication and a glimpse into the vast beauty of our galaxy.

To spark your inspiration, we've sifted through countless submissions to the PhotoPills Awards, showcasing the talent and vision of photographers like you. Examining closely all the year's entries, we've selected the most breathtaking Milky Way photos of 2023.

Eager to capture your own Milky Way masterpiece? Here's your roadmap to success:

  1. Equip yourself with PhotoPills, the ultimate guide to astrophotography.

  2. Seek out the darkest skies.

  3. Choose the best camera and ideal lens for Milky Way photography.

  4. Fine tune your settings for the clearest, most vibrant Milky Way photos.

Now, let's embark on this celestial journey...

Below you'll find what we consider the 2023 best Milky Way photos.

Keep exploring, keep dreaming, and above all, keep capturing the night sky!

Milky Way: The Definitive Photography Guide

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1.Javier Rosano

Milky Way behind a windmill in Ojos Negros (Spain)
Sony a7 III | 24mm | f/2.8 | 180s (sky) and 30s (foreground) | ISO 800
Photo by Javier Rosano

Location: Ojos Negros, Spain

"Photo taken with an equatorial mount for the sky (180s exposure) and 30s for the foreground, lighting the windmill with a warm lantern."

2.Maria Giovanna Mureddu

human figure inside a cave with the milky way behind in Spiaggia Di Piscinnì, Sardinia (Italy)
Sony a7 II | 14mm | f/2.8 | 30s | ISO 6400
Photo by Maria Giovanna Mureddu

Location: Spiaggia Di Piscinnì, Sardinia (Italy)

"Sardinia is one the best places in Italy to shoot the Milky Way. There is very little light pollution and the landscapes are amazing, like this beach near Torre di Piscinnì where a friend showed me this beautiful cave where I waited for the Milky Way to appear in the composition just a bit before disappearing."

3.José Luis Cantabrana

Milky Way arching over the Pinnacles National Park in Cervantes, Australia
Canon R5 | 15mm | f/4 | 120s | ISO 1200 | Multi-row tracked panorama
Photo by Jose Luis Cantabrana

Location: Pinnacles National Park in Cervantes, Australia

"| Interstellar | • I had dreamed of visiting this location ever since I saw the breathtaking images captured by the legendary Michael Goh, aka astrophotobear. 'Interstellar' not only captures the epic beauty of this desertic location and the night sky, but also the personal sense of wonder and accomplishment that comes from ticking a long-awaited destination off my list. These timeless guardians stand tall and proud, reaching towards the starry sky above. As the Summer Milky Way stretches across the night sky, these ancient sentinels seem to connect the terrestrial world with the interstellar beyond. Mars can be seen close to the constellation Orion, over a colorful airglow that enhances the beauty of the scene."

This is one the 2023 best Milky Way photos, as José Luis was January's Nightmaster.

4.Stefano Bauli

Arch of the milky way above a human figure in Dolomites (Italy)
Sony a7 III | 14mm | Sky: stacking 5x7, f/2.8, 10s, ISO 10000 | Foreground: 7x, f/4, 2min, ISO 2000
Photo by Stefano Bauli

Location: Dolomites, Italy

"Space Connection - Last Saturday, just after work and having no particular social commitments for that weekend, I had organized myself for a night out in the mountains. The goal was probably to "capture" my last winter galactic arc of the season, before moving on to the "summer" sky, and the ZTF Comet also called Neanderthal Comet seen its last passage near the Earth 52,000 years ago precisely at era of our ancient ancestors. I had just had a very busy week and given the tiredness, I wanted to stay in areas "relatively close" to home so that I could return early. But you know.... In these situations, the final word is always up to the weather and obviously the places chosen for that night were not suitable for the purpose, therefore, change of plans! Spurred on by one of my most trusted companions on photographic adventures, we finally "landed" at Passo Giau, one of the best known and most appreciated places in the Dolomites. It was cold....sleep and tiredness had meanwhile taken over almost making me give up on the intent but as soon as the moon dropped below the horizon and I put my head out the window, everything suddenly disappeared!! The sight of the celestial vault had the effect of an adrenaline injection in the body and in an instant I remembered why I was there and what I had to do! The rest of this adventure...I'll let the photo "tell" it."

5.Pablo Ruíz

Arch of the milky way above a human figure from a cave in Lagos de Covadonga (Spain)
Nikon Z6 | 14mm | f/2.8 | Sky: 300s (tracked), ISO 640 | Foreground: 30s, ISO 6400
Photo by Pablo Ruíz

Location: Lagos de Covadonga, Spain

"The Eyes of Covadonga - Panoramic of two rows x 9 photos and sky using tracker and astro modified camera. It was made in the surroundings of Lagos de Covadonga this winter. A spectacular night with hardly any wind, good temperatures and a clear and bright sky. It was not easy to balance and put some order between the ground and the sky, but after looking around the location, the best option I saw was this panorama with Orion in one of the eyes and the silhouette in the another."

6.Carlos González

two illuminated tents with Milky Way behind the Vignemale mountain in the French Pyrenees (France)
Sony a7 III | 16mm | f/2.8 | 20s | ISO 3200
Photo by Carlos González

Location: Vignemale, France

"Vignemale, the highest mountain in the French Pyrenees. A point on the wall showed us a rope trying to reach the top."

This is one the 2023 best Milky Way photos, as Carlos was February's Nightmaster.

7.Stefano Pellegrini

Astronaut with the vertical milky way behind in Tre Cime Di Lavaredo, Italy
Nikon D850 | 15mm | f/2.8 | 13s | ISO 6400
Photo by Stefano Pellegrini

Location: Tre Cime Di Lavaredo, Italy

"The idea behind my previews "moonlanding shoots" was to find a flat and desert landscape similar to the moon one, and for this reason I tried to find lunar views in Dolomites without making the mountains recognizable. This time instead, I wanted to make Dolomites more present, and for this reason I choose Tre Cime, the most recognizable peaks. My favourite view is from the Pass, so a shot from there was a must. To do so I had to make my hike back from the Paterno during the night in complete darkness. I tried to be very quick, and I rushed down the via ferrata to catch the milkyway perfectly in the middle of the frame, but in the end I arrived a bit late. The final image is a pano of 4 horizontal shots, each one a blend of several. The one for the sky is a staking of 5 at 13" each. The 3 section of the ground are each one a merge of: 1 long-expo of 2 minutes, 4 shots for the lightpaining, and a shot for myself as astronaut. The lightpainting was a bit tricky to make, especially make it right to be joined in the pano. This time I wanted to make the astronaut bigger and more present, to balance the huge silhouette of the Tre Cime. I like the foreground with the rocks illuminated, and how this view that is so known in my head is transformed in something new..."

8.Sarah Wouters

horizontal milky way over a complex of Buddha statues in Sathan, Nan (Thailand)
Sony a7r III | 16mm | f/4 | 30s | ISO 800
Photo by Sarah Wouters

Location: Sathan, Nan, Thailand

"The courtyard with hundred Buddha statues under the clear night with Milky Way of Nanathamma Sathan ,srakaew province Thailand."

9.Antonio Baüer

human figure lit by a torch at the sea shore with the milky way rises in the sky of Arachania (Uruguay)
Nikon D810 | 16mm | f/2.8 | 25s | ISO 3200
Photo by Antonio Baüer

Location: Arachania, Uruguay

"The milky way rising from the ocean."

This is one the 2023 best Milky Way photos, as Antonio was March's Nightmaster.

10.Walfred Trigueros

arch of the milky way above the erupting Volcán Acatenango in Guatemala
Nikon D7500 | 22mm | f/2.8 | 25s | ISO 2500
Photo by Walfred Trigueros

Location: Volcán Acatenango, Guatemala

"A cold and clear early morning, looking for the center of our galaxy, a panoramic view next to the erupting volcano of Fuego. March 26, 2023."

11.Pepe García

milky way and light trails over a bridge in Mirador Nus de sa Corbata (Spain)
Nikon Z6 | 24mm | f/2.8 (landscape) and f/11 (light trails) | 15s | ISO 4000 (landscape) and ISO 800 (light trails)
Photo by Pepe García

Location: Mirador Nus de sa Corbata, Spain

"The bridge that makes possible one of the most emblematic places in Mallorca is Nu de sa Corbata, in Sa Calobra. The whole scene: 15s, f/2.8, ISO 4000. For the light trails: 15s, f/11, ISO 800."

12.Alexis Coliqueo

Milky way rising behind an abandoned cargo ship in Cabo San Pablo (Argentina)
Sony a7 III | 20mm | f/1.8 | 20s | ISO 3200
Photo by Alexis Coliqueo

Location: Cabo San Pablo, Argentina

"Cargo ship Desdemona stranded in 1985 at Cabo San Pablo. Ambient temperature of 1ºC. Low tide."

This is one the 2023 best Milky Way photos, as Alexis was April's Nightmaster.

13.Mauro Cirigliano

human figure illuminating the flowers of the landscape with a lamp while the milky way rises behind in Parque Nacional del Teide (Spain)
Nikon Z6 II | 14mm | f/4 | 90s | ISO 5000 | 1 shot for the sky (tracked) + 1 shot for the ground
Photo by Mauro Cirigliano

Location: Parque Nacional del Teide, Spain

"I took this photo in Tenerife at one of my favorite spots. I was looking in the dark for an attractive composition with Photopills that would enhance the beautiful Milky Way. I found this bush full of flowers and climbed up the rock with my lantern to take a selfie with the stars. The milky way was crazy, I could see it with the naked eye! I will never tire of my star-hunting adventures!"

14.Herve Rannu

Arch of the milky way with pink and yellow northern lights over a landscape in Veskijärv (Estonia)
Sony a7r V | 14mm | f/2 | Sky: 13s, ISO 5000 | Foreground: 120s, ISO 1600
Photo by Herve Rannu

Location: Veskijärv, Estonia

"The shot is captured in the end of April this year when I camped two nights in one of the most unreal landscapes I had seen in Estonia. The northern lights surprised me when I was capturing the Milky Way arch and in the end I was able to capture them both in one photo. I am super happy that I got to experience this amazing sight and captured probably my best nightscape photo of all time."

15.Anderson Serna

A bright meteorite crosses the sky with the milky way behind in Farallones de Citará (Colombia)
Sony a6000 | 12mm | f/2.8 | 20s | ISO 4000
Photo by Anderson Serna

Location: Farallones de Citará, Colombia

"At more than 3,200 meters above sea level, after a long cloudy and humid night that did not promise to clear up, at the end of the night, the sky took pity on me and opened up completely, showing me what was hidden behind the San Nicolás hill. A celestial vault in its maximum splendor, so clear to the eye that it seemed impossible, with the Milky Way crossing the sky from side to side, and as if that were not enough, as if it were a prize, a meteorite (the brightest I have ever seen) explodes in front of the camera, leaving a trail that would vanish a few seconds later. One of the most memorable moments I've ever experienced."

16.Alejandra Heis

a human silhouette poses in an abandoned spa with the milky way behind in Mar de Plata (Argentina)
Sony a7 IV | 14mm | f/2.8 | 15s | ISO 2000
Photo by Alejandra Heis

Location: Mar de Plata, Argentina

"This is one of my favorite places near my city that allows me to gaze at the stars. It is an abandoned spa, a quiet place to meet with colleagues to take night photos and have a good time."

17.Carlos González

human figure with the milky way arching above in León, Spain
Sony a7 III | 16mm | f/2.8 | 20s | ISO 3200
Photo by Carlos González

Location: León, Spain

"Pano of two rows and 8 photos per row. A night full of airglow, a phenomenon that is not always repeated and that when you capture it, the mountain leaves you indifferent. My figure silhouetted against the sky gives dimension to the majesty of the mountains and the surroundings."

18.Kostas Katsalis

human figure with the milky way rising behind at the Bridge of Aziz Ag in Grevena (Macedonia)
Canon EOS RP | 20mm | f/2.8 | 10s (10 shots for the sky) | ISO 6400 | Mirfak Lumen Cube to light the foreground
Photo by Kostas Katsalis

Location: Grevena, Macedonia

"It's been a year since I planned this photo using Photopills. Although the night was crystal clear and the location is so dark, I had to fight with the humidity from the river under the bridge. On top of that, there was no chance to polar align as my North side was blocked. Still, by stacking I would get the image I planned and waited so long for... Like I said, it takes a few seconds for the viewer to look at an astrophotographer's picture but it takes months of planning and waiting to get this result! All you have to do is respect that and use your lights as less as possible!"

This is one the 2023 best Milky Way photos, as Kostas was June's Nightmaster and PhotoPiller of the month.

19.Tony Merino

human silhouette hanging in a cave with the milky way behind in Caló Blanc (Spain)
Nikon D810 | 35mm | f/1.8 | 8s | ISO 6400
Photo by Tony Merino

Location: Caló Blanc, Spain

"A collapsed cave is always an interesting location to take photos. In order to get this picture, I visited the place four times, carefully planning the right moment to shot. The most challenging points: Get the right and steady position for my hanging friend and get my tripod secured amid giant boulders."

20.Jesse Bradford

lone tree surrounded by rocks and water with milky way behind in Lake Tahoe (USA)
Nikon Z7 | 20mm | f/2.2 | 15s | ISO 3200
Photo by Jesse Bradford

Location: Lake Tahoe, USA

"A beautiful night under the stars at Lake Tahoe. Single shot using a drone to light the subject."

21.Richard Gallagher

light trail of a SpaceX rocket lifting off with the milky way above viewed from Apollo Beach, Florida (USA)
Nikon D5 | 14mm | Sky: f/2.8, 10s, ISO 1600 | Foreground: f/13, 503s, ISO 125
Photo by Richard Gallagher

Location: Apollo Beach, Florida (USA)

"A SpaceX rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and streaks between the cosmic luminescence of the Milky Way and the bioluminescence bacteria in the waves below."

22.Edith Diaz

human silhouette with Milky Way behind a rock arch in Arches National Park, USA
Nikon Z6 II | 20mm | f/1.8 | 60s (tracked) | ISO 800
Photo by Edith Diaz

Location: Arches National Park, USA

"Milky Way at Arches National park in Utah."

23.Amos Ravid

an illuminated tents with Milky Way behind viewed from a cave in Timna Park, Israel
Nikon D750 | 14mm | f/2.8 | 20s | ISO 2000
Photo by Amos Ravid

Location: Timna Park, Israel

"This photo is a blue hour blend focus stacked for the phoreground and a single exposure for the sky. It was taken in Timna Park in southern Israel starting with a scouting tour and finding the location back in the winter (thanks Photopills). The implementation was in mid June."

24.Yan López

Perseids meteor shower captured behind an abandoned church in Villacreces (Spain)
Canon R6 | 14mm | f/2 | 15s | ISO 800
Photo by Yan López

Location: Villacreces, Spain

"Perseids 2023 captured for almost 4 hours on the night of the peak in the abandoned town of Villacreces, Castilla y León, Spain. Multiple shots blended."

This is one the 2023 best Milky Way photos, as Yan was August's Moonmaster and PhotoPiller of the month.

25.Rubén Vela

milky way arching above a sea of clouds and mountain peaks in Fuente Dé (Spain)
Nikon D610 | 14mm | f/2.8 | 25s | ISO 6400
Photo by Rubén Vela

Location: Fuente Dé, Spain

"Panoramic view taken from the top of Peña Vieja, Picos de Europa. The climb up here was an exercise in trust and intuition, since the clouds covered absolutely the entire environment. For some reason I had the thought that at the top the situation would be different, and so it was. Once we broke through the clouds, the panorama was epic. A visual spectacle available to not many people. The narrow summit made it difficult to move in the middle of the night. Panoramic view composed of two rows. The ground is done during the blue hour."

26.Darren Wassell

milky way behind a baobab tree in Boondooma, Queensland (Australia)
Sony a7r III A | 16mm | f/4 | 20s | ISO 4000
Photo by Darren Wassell

Location: Boondooma, Queensland, Australia

"A beautiful night with friends under the stars!!"

27.Jason Rice

vertical milky way above an illuminated house in Talladega National Forest, USA
Sony a7 III Astro modified | 20mm | f/1.8 | Sky: Star Tracker, blend of 9 of 150s, ISO 100 | Foreground: 60s, ISO 1000
Photo by Jason Rice

Location: Talladega National Forest, USA

"Old country church."

28.Txema Franco

milky way between two rocks in Playa de las Alberquillas (Spain)
Nikon Z7 II | 14mm | f/2.8 | Sky: 240s, ISO 640, Star Tracker | Foreground: 30s, ISO 3200
Photo by Txema Franco

Location: Playa de las Alberquillas, Spain

"On a new moon night, we decided to go to this beach in Malaga to capture the Milky Way between these two mythical rocks at Alberquillas Beach."

29.Nhi Casey

vertical milky way above a desert landscape and some rock formations somewhere in New Mexico (USA)
Sony a7r III | 16mm | f/2.8 | 10s | ISO 1250
Photo by Nhi Casey

Location: Somewhere in New Mexico, USA

"Milky Way over rock formations that look like Cracked Eggs."

30.Ulrich Wrabetz

milky way over the Baobab Alley (Madagascar)
Nikon Z7 II | 14mm | f/1.8 | 15s | ISO 1600
Photo by Ulrich Wrabetz

Location: Baobab Alley, Madagascar

"The amazing Baobab trees grow up to 35m and showed a magnificent foreground for the Milkyway on Madagascar."

This is one the 2023 best Milky Way photos, as Ulrich was October's Nightmaster.

31.Pierandrea Folle

milky way behind a rock that looks like a mushroom in Wadi Rum (Jordan)
Nikon Z6 II a | 14mm | f/5.6 | 240s | ISO 1250
Photo by Pierandrea Folle

Location: Wadi Rum, Jordan

"Do you know that mushroom grows up in desert?? Yes but, made of rocks!! My first photo in a desert, an incredible experience! After we settled in our tents in Wadi Rum, we had a typical bedouin dinner and after drinking their breakfast hot tea near the fire in the camp and decided our spots, we started moving in the desert on our 4x4 and I, obviously, was in the uncovered back. We travel among the rocks canyon shaped by atmospheric environments and every rocks leaves us breathless, since we finally arrived to our mushroom. Among the cats that moved our gear and some first difficulties, we shot our first image in Wadi Rum desert. An incredible emotion! After that, we soon start moving to another spot!!"

This is one the 2023 best Milky Way photos, as Pierandrea was November's Moonmaster and PhotoPiller of the month.

32.Yves Schor

silky water stream in the mountains with a vertical milky way above the Sustenpass (Switzerland)
Nikon D850 | 14mm | f/1.8 | 10s | ISO 10000
Photo by Yves Schor

Location: Sustenpass, Switzerland

"The plan was to photograph the Milky Way when it was in the middle of the two mountains, unfortunately there was fog at that time. Nature was kind to me and the sky cleared up, so i was able to take this exposure. Sometimes it's worth waiting!"

33.Marco Squeri

milky way above the trees of Quiver Tree Forest (Namibia) with a shiny full moon behind
Nikon Z7 | 20mm | f/1.8 | 13s | ISO 3200
Photo by Marco Squeri

Location: Quiver Tree Forest, Namibia

"I had read that the sky in Namibia was something unique, but I never thought I would see this spectacle. The Milky Way and the moon gifted us with this show on our first night at the Quiver Tree Forest."

34.Mauro Cirigliano

milky way above a sea of clouds and mountain peaks in La Palma, Spain
Nikon D750 | 14mm | Sky: 1x 120sec, f/4, ISO 6400 (tracked) | Foreground: 3x 120sec, f/4, ISO 6400 (focus stacked)
Photo by Mauro Cirigliano

Location: La Palma, Spain

"One of the most beautiful night landscapes I have ever seen. It was a magical night spent in the Caldera de Taburiente National Park in La Palma, Canary Islands. A volcanic scenery with dark rocks and solidified lava flows dominates all around, contrasted by the brilliant white of the clouds condensed in the caldera, a real wonder! What makes this landscape unique is the Milky Way, rising in this shot at 02:00 AM, riding the edge of the island!"

35.Javier Hernández

vertical milky way behind some cacti in Sonora Desert (Mexico)
Sony a7 III | 24mm | f/1.8 | 10s | ISO 3200
Photo by Javier Hernández

Location: Sonora Desert, Mexico

"The Milky Way is set behind cacti, which resemble towers rising to the heavens - October nights in the Sonoran Desert."

36.Santanu Majumder

vertical milky way above three tents in Zanskar Valley (India)
Nikon D850 | 18mm | f/3.5 | 204s | ISO 8000 | Tracked and blended
Photo by Santanu Majumder

Location: Zanskar Valley, India

"This was my second visit to this amazing place. And I was lucky this time round as the skies were absolutely clear for all of the night. The sky is tracked and blended with a single foreground long exposure. The air glow in this Bortle 1 zone is pretty strong and had to be reduced in Post."

37.It's time to head out and capture the Milky Way!

Well, you've just delved into the best Milky Way photos of 2023. Now, let's wrap this up!

These stunning images should serve as your inspiration, pushing you to embark on your own exciting Milky Way photography adventures.

Once you're hit with a brilliant idea for a Milky Way shot, start planning it with PhotoPills. It's truly the best app out there for Milky Way photos!

A couple of final tips for you:

Tip #1: Get to know the ideal camera settings specifically for Milky Way photography.

Tip #2: Have a look at a useful Milky Way photography cheat sheet.

Remember, if your first shot doesn't capture the magic, don't hesitate to try again!

Now it's time to head out and photograph the Milky Way!


Antoni Cladera is a landscape photographer commited to the environment. Artist of the Spanish Confederation of Photography and member of the Spanish Association of Nature Photographers (AEFONA). He's part of the PhotoPills Team.

Special thanks to Sandra Vallaure, a great photographer and friend, for her tremendous help in making this article possible.

Note: Some links on this page are affiliate links. What does this mean? If you buy/rent using these links you're helping support us and it costs you nothing extra. Thank you for your support.

Milky Way: The Definitive Photography Guide

Get this ebook for free now!

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