As my brother and I set out at 3 a.m. to get photos of the Milky Way, we had no idea what else was in store for us. We knew that Black Bears were common in the area, as we had seen them many times ourselves, so we were alert as we marched down to the lake with bear bells and flashlights in hand. We knew that in addition to bears there was a good amount of other wildlife that would be active at such an early hour, so we kept an eye out for them as well. Little did we know, the unexpected that night would come from far out of our reach.
As we got to the lake, turned off our flashlights, and let our eyes adjust, we could see the Milky Way above us in its full glory. Spanning across the entire lake from one end to the next, it was like nothing I had ever seen before. Sure, we had seen a little of the Milky Way in the past, but nothing beat this hour, as the position of the Milky Way couldn't have been better. I wouldn't have been able to figure that out if it weren't for the PhotoPills app, which helped predict the Milky Way's location in the sky at certain times, and led us to our trek to the lake at such an ungodly hour. One thing this app couldn't predict, however, was what would to be in store later that night.
As I packed up my camera and tripod and my brother and I prepared to go back up to the house, he directed my attention to something off in the North. We stood there processing what we were seeing, and then we realized we were seeing the Northern Lights. Right there, at the bottom of the Milky Way, were the Northern Lights, like the pot of gold at the bottom of the galactic rainbow. Something we never thought we would see from our dwelling in the Catskill Mountains was right there before us. It sent chills up my spine, it was just so surreal.