Kissimmee Prairie Preserve appears above, an excellent amateur astronomer friendly Florida dark sky site (not in Kissimmee) image by Jason W. Higley
FLORIDA DARK SKY SITES
The image above of the Milky Way from a dark sky site in Florida, just south of Yeehaw Junction. It was acquired with the generous help of one of (in my opinion) the best astro-imagers out there, just South of Yeehaw Junction Florida, in late March of 2017. He generously loaned me his mount (which he also operated) and excellent lens and basically did everything possible to make this a good run and experience for me (so basically it's because of his efforts that it was accomplished.) I don't list his name because I don't want to ruin his good reputation because of my relatively un-expert image processing (and because I said I wouldn't), but I greatly appreciate his help and valuable insights. I used my Canon T6i and it's a single exposure of 98 seconds (I tried some stacks, but in this case the single exposure looked much cleaner.) Post-processing was by me, and I had to crop it a bit and deal with the LP gradient too (as it was still Spring, low to the horizon just before sunrise.) THIS LOCATION IS NOT FAR FROM KISSIMMEE PRAIRIE PRESERVE - The image is looking toward the center of our Milky Way Galaxy, no telescope was used (only a camera), with a telephoto lens on a sky tracking mount, in the morning hours in late March, 2017. It's not far from a publicly accessible state park campgrounds known as Kissimmee Prairie Preserve, a.k.a. "KPP"; amateurs like KPP because it is an astronomer-friendly site that many go to on weekends when the Moon is less visible, usually close to the New Moon phase.
I made the animation below from 2012 NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP satellite images, and I overlaid a map from the USGS. There are some differences, but it's as close as I could get it without radically messing with the photo, and I needed to use a map in the public domain for copyright reasons.
The image below is cropped from an image featured in a a recent 2016 science paper The New World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness. White represents the brightest light pollution areas, blue the darkest skies.
This map is based on data published June 10, 2016 by a team of researchers led by Fabio Falchi and including NOAA's Chris Elvidge and CIRES' Kimberly Baugh. Image is available via Creative Commons License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0 Image credit: F. Falchi et al., Light Pollution Atlas, ISTIL Also credit Jakob Grothe/NPS contractor, and Matthew Price/CIRES, who also worked on the zoomable version of this that can be found at http://cires.colorado.edu/Artificial-light (which you can go to by clicking the image.)
This image is a composite assembled from data acquired by the NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012.
CLICK IMAGE OR HERE TO SEE BIG ORIGINAL VERSION
Visit the International Dark Sky Association's website to learn more about what we all can do about light pollution.
Some Known Florida Amateur Astronomy Locations:
Big Cypress National Preserve - off of Tamiami Trail East (also see Kirby Storter Roadside park below for another Big Cypress Preserve location.)
Chiefland Astronomy Village Many neighbors team up at this location to provide one of Florida's most amateur astronomer friendly locations, and they host monthly star parties, and usually a major public star party in the Fall.
Fakahatchee Strand Reserve (a.k.a. 'The Fack'), off I-75 - touch base with someone at Everglades Astronomical Society to see when they're out there or see their calendar.
Farrout Observatory, Dade City, FL "Where Tampa's Astronomers Cluster"
Kirby Storter Roadside Park - It's surrounded by the pristine Big Cypress Preserve. Here's a google maps link that shows it clearly too. See this 'street view' to see the site!!! Looks like it's free too.
Kissimmee Prairie Preserve -not in Kissimmee, listed as a Silver Tier Dark Sky Site by the International Dark-Sky Association in 2016, it has astro observing sites too, check with them for info here at this link http://www.floridastateparks.org/kissimmeeprairie/
Also check out http://darksky.org/idsp/parks/kissimmeeprairie/
Osceola National Forest site of NEFAS (open to all)
Biolab Boat Ramp Site near Canaveral National Seashore. Get permission before observing at this site (or you'll likely have a short session, as I did :^). This is a wonderful dark sky site.
Shired Island in Dixie FL
West Summerland Key/Camp Wesumkee - Site of the Winter Star Party
Withlacoochee River Park (county park with fees) - see http://www.stpeteastronomyclub.org/viewing.php for more info.