Under the Stars… Posted on June 29, 2019 by Julia Cunningham By Patti Blake | The News Herald Posted Jun 28, 2019 at 5:00 AM There’s something special about the night sky over Cape San Blas, and photographers are flocking to the area to capture it. Photos of the Donna Kay shrimp boat under a starry night sky are becoming increasingly popular on social media feeds like Milky Way Chasers Group or 30E Cape San Blas, FL Group. Michael Simmons lives in Houston, Texas, and made the 780-mile drive to capture photos of the shrimp boat under the night sky. “When I heard of the Donna Kay, I wanted to see a shrimp boat under the stars, but to also see a now iconic fixture of the beach,” he said. With similar thoughts in mind, I talked a friend into packing a picnic and making a 2-mile walk along the Cape San Blas shoreline in late May. We chose a night with a new moon so the stars wouldn’t be washed out in my photos by bright moonlight. The resulting photos were unexpectedly beautiful and I immediately understood why so many photographers made such a long walk in the dark. The Milky Way sparkled in the sky as it rose over the Donna Kay. And a meteor shot across the sky during a 2-hour time-lapse photo, which resulted in a unique streak among the star trails. “Hiking out to the Donna Kay was worth it to capture the Milky Way over a unique foreground that has its own history,” avid night sky photographer Kyle Miller said. Other areas around Cape San Blas proved to be just as stunning at night. The T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park sustained significant damage to the camping facilities during Hurricane Michael. Category 5 winds carved a breach connecting the Gulf of Mexico to the Eagle Harbor. The road leading to the campground is gone, but a land bridge now sometimes forms when the tide is low. I applied for an overnight recreational permit and was able to spend a few hours in the park after sunset on the first of June. The land bridge happened to form before sunset, and it gave me a window of time to be able to walk into an area normally closed to the public. I counted five sea turtle nests as I walked along the coast in the twilight. Crumbling buildings stood among leaning utility poles with deactivated lines dangling from them. Palm trees leaned on their sides and wind-damaged dunes stood tall but obviously reshaped by the wind. According to the state park website, the campground will remain closed for an undetermined amount of time. Visitors wishing to camp or stay in a cabin should make arrangements with another park. My last stop for night sky photos in Cape San Blas was at Salinas Park at the end of June. The Milky Way rose above pine trees and a few small eyes glowed back at me from the swampy marsh when I passed a light over the landscape to illuminate the scene for my photo. There were no other photographers in sight and lots of natural beauty to capture. Go to newsherald.com for photos under the stars at Cape San Blas.