Most people consider milky way season from March to October, but you can actually see the core just before sunrise right now (January). It's difficult because it's really low on the horizon and if there's any light pollution, which is worse on the horizon, it can completely obscure it.
Anyway I've been feeling a bit of withdrawal from shooting the milky way, so I went out with a friend to the Salton Sea. We figured the Salton Sea would be flat enough so that we could actually catch the core as it peaked over the horizon. We camped out on the shore and we got up at 4:10am to photograph. The middle of the core passed the horizon at 4:50 and I made this shot at 5:10. The sun rose at 6:47.
I'm a little conflicted by this shot. I like how it looks like an alien landscape. Unfortunately this isn't another planet. It's right here in California on the shores of the Salton Sea. The place looks like it's dying because it is. It's drying up and is too salty for life. Behind me is a beach full of white sand, except the sand isn't sand and is made from fish bones and barnacles. Besides the salinity, the lake is producing significant dust with toxic chemicals as the lake bottom is exposed (from agricultural runoff).