Tag Archives: astrophotography

C/2020 F3 Comet NEOWISE

For those looking west just after sunset until roughly the next couple of weeks, you’re in for a treat. There is a comet visiting the solar system. It is currently as close as it will get to Earth and will not return for another 6800 years. In the coming weeks, it will likely be getting fainter. If you are within the city or even suburbs, you will need a pair of binoculars to see it, but the good news is that it will rise higher and higher.

To find it, identify the big dipper and look just below it. This article has some helpful hints. Another useful resource is Stellarium (https://stellarium-web.org/)

This was my first time back to shooting astrophotography since 2013 when we were hunting Comet PanSTARRS. In the last week, I have been shooting from the city, but haven’t had the best results (progression is below). Shooting in the city with the sky glow shortly before or after sunrise/sunset was the biggest challenge. Getting away beyond the city lights makes an enormous difference.

It’s always fun to blend my favorite hobbies and astronomy, photography and travelling to a remote site makes this a social-distancing friendly activity.

Location: Astronomy club dark site near Atoka, Oklahoma
Time/Date: July 19, 2020 22:40 CST
Camera: Canon 5D Mark III
Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS with Arca Swiss lens plate
Tripod: Manfrotto 190XPROB
Mount: Gitzo G1177M Magnesium Center Ball Head with Really Right Stuff B2-PRO Screw Clamp
Exposure information: 77 x 5 sec lights, 93 x 5 sec darks, 69 dark bias. Photo taken at 200mm @ F/2.8, 12,800 ISO
Stacking: Sequator (align stars, select best pixels to remove satellites and one airplane), Auto brightness, and HDR on. Everything else off.

Processing: Imported into Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic. Boosted contrast, shadows, clartiy, dehaze, vibrance, and saturation. Decreasd highlights, whites, blkacks. White balance adjustment towards cooler temperatures, slight tone curve adjustment, HSL sliders to decrease some color noise. Several gradient and radial filters within and around the comet to add contrast and darken skies. Slightly cropped and exported to JPEG.

A longer shutter speed, higher ISO, and wide open lens were used to capture as much light as possible. Because I had no tracking mount, 5 seconds was chosen to push the shutter speed to just beyond the limit of the 500 rule, with a minimal but acceptable amount of star trailing.

Comet Neowise first seen on 7/13/20 at sunrise around 0500 in the morning. Notice the different orientation as seen at sunrise and sunset.
Comet Neowise at Sunrise
Comet Neowise at Sunrise, barely visible on the left hand side.
NEOWISE continued to impress each evening becoming easier to see at dusk.
On a clear night, NEOWISE was seen from the city with an impressive trail.

October 23’s Solar Eclipse in North America

That’s not the moon, it’s the sun at around 5:30 PM local time!

In case you missed it, the other day, there was a solar eclipse. You probably didn’t even notice since it was not noticeable without a filter. It was not a total eclipse where it gets dark and the stars come out, but visible enough with the right filter that you could see the moon’s shadow traversing across the sun right before sunset. As a bonus, visible on the top picture, is a giant sunspots in the middle if the sun. It’s the largest in two decades and is putting out quite the disruption in solar flares right now.

IMG_3359It’s been a couple years since 2012 when North America had the opportunity to see an annular solar eclipse (sun forms a ring around the moon in appearance). The next solar eclipse in North America isn’t due till August 21, 2017. It will be a total solar eclipse, so until then, enjoy!

Always be careful when viewing the sun and use a proper #14 welding filter so that you are never looking directly at it.


I interrupt my cruise daily blogging for a quick post on a once in a lifetime opportunity. There’s a comet out right now, Comet PanSTARRS, that’s visible just after sunset (about 40 minutes after when it becomes dark enough). You may need binoculars, but if you have a clear view of the horizon and are in the northern hemisphere, now’s an excellent opportunity to see this extraterrestrial visitor! It won’t be around for another 100 million years or so, so this is your chance. You can use this Space article to help you find it.

I was able to snap these few pictures from a local park in the city. All photos were taken at 200mm with an EF 70-200mm F/2.8L IS mounted on a Canon 5D Mark III.



Pleiades star cluster - "The Seven Sisters" with a shooting star!
Pleiades star cluster – “The Seven Sisters” with a shooting star!

Orion constellation and nebula
Orion constellation and nebula