Getting better… The comet’s a little higher… I’m doing fewer stupid things with the camera…
Sunset was at 20:05 so I again started hunting at about 20:35. That seems to be a bit of a waste of time because the comet is just too low contrast to be seen with that much twilight still lighting up the sky. Even with three different apps telling me exactly where it is, I didn’t spot it (right where it’s supposed to be, between these two trees) until just before 21:00. And while I was able to spot it with binoculars at that point, it wasn’t visible to the naked eye. Best efforts with the camera is marginal, to be generous.
But I hope these pictures will give you an idea of what you’ll see if you go hunting. (Get binoculars!!)
Five minutes later it was better.
And better. Starting to zoom in with the big telephoto.
And better. This was about 21:08 and the head of the comet was just barely beginning to be visible to the naked eye, but mainly because I knew exactly where to look and I knew what (or what not) to expect.
About 21:10, this is what a long, long exposure on the regular lens looked like. It was actually getting pretty dark and most of the ground lighting in this scene is from the street lights, but you can see that down near the horizon it was still bright. Click on the picture to blow it up – you can see the comet in that circle, but it’s a fuzzy dot and a smudge to the naked eye.
But now, just as the comet’s going down behind those trees, it’s finally dark enough so that with the bigger lens, you can start doing 3 second, 10 second, 30 second exposures without getting nothing but white. And when you do that…
Six second exposure. My best shot yet!
Then it was down behind the trees and I was scrambling, because about three minutes later…
There was a fantastic ISS pass – there will be more for the rest of the week, pretty much no matter where you are, so check out Heavens-Above.com or the NASA site or any number of other places to see where and when for your location. On this map I’ve
vandalized enhanced it by drawing in the location on the horizon that NEOWISE was at.
Rising from behind the neighbor’s tree, headed toward the Big Dipper which is right outside the upper right of this frame. (At the bottom you can see a jet out over the Pacific on course into LAX [the red & green lights] and another satellite, probably in a polar orbit going north to south.)
Did I mention the Big Dipper? Here it is, hanging down, with the ISS going from left to right through the handle. Ten minutes earlier we MIGHT have gotten the frame set up to catch the comet next to that tree at the bottom, but close only counts in horse shoes, hand grenades, and tactical nuclear weapons.
Finally watched the ISS headed from the Big Dipper, past the North Star, and down over the horizon to the northeast.
That was a pretty good night. And there are great ISS passes every night for the next week. Including one at about 21:23 on Friday night that should be going right next to the comet.