Neowise 3, Lazy American Travel Photopgrapher 0

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Robert Burns had it right. Even back in 1785 when he wrote that phrase. I wonder if he ever thought it would just as relevant over 200 years later.

I had plans to go out of the city about 10 miles or so to leave the light pollution behind so I could see and photograph the Neowise comet. Things definitely did not go anywhere near my plans. I had planned two nights (Friday and Saturday) that were suppose to be the brightest that Neowise would be.

First night–Friday two weeks ago. I picked a spot where I could park that was just off the highway. There was ample place to park and several others were also there to take in the sight. However, there was also a guy who set up a fruit stand and sold churros. He also had VERY bright lights the really ruined the spot. I got there about 9:45pm and figured that I could wait him out until 10pm. I mean, who in their right mind is going to stop at a roadside fruit/churro stand this late at night. He started packing it in about 9:55pm, but people kept stopping! I knew he was not going anywhere so I moved down the road.

I turned off the highway and onto a county road. There was a good spot not more than 100 yards from the highway. The only problem I noticed was that the power lines on the other side of the street might be in the way. With my flashlight I could see that there was a flat area on the other side of the road, but it was down a small embankment of about 3-4 feet. I thought this would be a good place. Wrong!

As I started down the embankment, I was doing okay and then just as my foot got to the last part it slipped. I tried to get my footing and almost had it but the momentum of my ample girth and the laws of physics took over. Then, as I was falling, notice that the barbed wire fence was closer that I thought when I started down the embankment. I fell into the fence post, utility pole, and just missed the barbed wire. Don’t worry–the fence and pole received no damage. The photographer took the brunt of it. I had scrapped my leg and arm badly. I was going to suck it up regarding the pain, but I was bleeding to much so I called it quits and tend to my wounds (and pride). I did not even get one shot off. Neowise 1, Lazy ATP 0.

Second attempt–I went out again the following Wednesday and stopped sooner than the previous attempt. Someone on one of my local photography groups of Facebook has some really nice pics from that spot, so I went there and set up. So far, so good. I took a few pictures to test the ISO and exposure times before comet time. I took about 40 shots in total. Looking at the results on my camera screen, I was very pleased. I went home happy (and uninjured this time). I didn’t upload them to my computer when I got home as I had to get up in the morning for work.

The Flag Barn in Madera County, California

The “test” shot above ended up being the best of the lot. I woke up early and eagerly uploaded my photos to end up starting my day down in the dumps. Everything else was out of focus as you can see below. Argghh! (The red lights are from the traffic signal nearby.) Neowise 2, Lazy ATP 0.

My “best” shot of Neowise

So, a third attempt followed two nights later. I went back to the road when I got hurt as it was the darkest area I could get to. It was one of the last night to see the comet. I setup and searched and searched and searched but I could not find it. The moon was still up in that part of the sky so I waited for moonset. I still couldn’t see it, so I decided to play with some long exposures of the field across the road. They also ended up out of focus. I thought I figured it out. What really got me was when I uploaded that batch, one of the (out of focus) long exposures had the bleeping comet! Final score – Neowise 3, Lazy ATP 0.

I did manage to get a few nice shots of the moon that night, so not a total loss.

All photos (even the bad ones) are © 2020 Charles Montgomery – All Rights Reserved

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *