On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions.
From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
NEOWISE needs no introduction, so I’ll just say that I never get tired of seeing these, and leave it at that! ~WaterGirl
I made two more trips out to see NEOWISE before it leaves the warmth of the Sun and heads out to the deep freeze and just becomes a icy mass.
The original plan was to head out to Joshua Tree on a Saturday, but the forecast both predicted clouds and wind so I settled on a more local venue, Lockwood Valley near Frazier Park north of LA. I’ve shot up there a number of times and it’s about a dark as Joshua Tree (the LA Astronomical Society has their dark site up there).
I was also planning to shoot some star trails. I shot star trails there a few years ago, but that shot was plagued by not having a fully charged battery and not getting a good foreground in the frame. I set up the NX-500 with my new timer I got for Father’s Day and let it take 1 minute star trail shots for a hour and a half, while I used my NX1 for the comet.
About a hour past sunset the comet became visible to the naked eye and was pretty bright in the northwestern sky. I brought my sky tracker with me for this trip and decided to take the same approach that I’ve used for deep space photos, tracking for a longer exposure and also stacking for noise reduction. I shot an initial wide angle shot and then two tighter shots to get the detail in the comet’s tails.
By Thursday the weather conditions had improved at Joshua Tree, so I fired up the Prius and headed there, meeting with a fellow photographer there. By the time the comet became visible in the sky, it was somewhat dimmer that it had been at Lockwood Valley. This may have been due to the Moon being present as well as some light pollution from Yucca Valley.
I shot a photo of the comet and the Moon as well as photos of just the comet in an area known as the Hall of Horrors. I moved to a familiar location that we’ve seen here at “On The Road”, a view that looks out between two large rocks. I’ve shot the setting sun there before and they framed the comet pretty well. We then headed out to Jumbo Rocks where I made one last capture of the comet before it set.
As twilight turns to night comet NEOWISE becomes visible in the northwestern sky.
The two tails of comet NEOWISE are clearly visible in this photo.
Comet NEOWISE burns brightly with it’s main tail and blue ion tail clearly evident over the northern mountains of the Lockwood Valley.
NEOWISE and the Moon over the Hall of Horrors with a Joshua Tree in the foreground.
The Joshua Tree points to NEOWISE with the Hall of Horrors in the background.
NEOWISE of a group of rocks called the Hall of Horrors at Joshua Tree National Park.
This shot should look familiar, I’ve shot the sunset from this location in 2017 and 2019. I would have liked to center the comet between the two large rocks, but I was already at the edge of the rock I was shooting from.
NEOWISE is setting into the light dome of the town of Joshua Tree with Jumbo Rocks in the foreground.
Oh my. This maybe your best set yet.
Pretty amazing. I have not been able to see it here in cloudy upstate NY, but I have learned a lot from your photos. Beautiful!
@Baud: Thanks, I might just be getting the hang of this whole photography thing.
Just to remind ya all I have a Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/BillinGlendaleCA
If you like my work, consider joining up.
Also I’ve added a new feature to my store, NEW SHOTS!
It’s where I have my last 6 months of photos, though that might be compressed to 3 months in the future(there was a lull during the Spring): https://www.billinglendaleca.com/NEW-SHOTS/
@oldster: Thanks, those are probably the last of NEOWISE(I don’t think I’ll be around for its return in 6700 years). It’s the second comet I’ve photographed, the other was not that great, but this one was fun.
Very nice. Thank You ?
Amazing shots and I agree with Baud, that these are some of your best.
Those photos are amazing. NE Ohio expected to be clear weather tonight. I think I will drag husband out tonight to drive west to Medina County where it’s flatter with fewer trees. Maybe we can see it.
He’s almost 70 and has never seen a comet.
These are truly wonderful, Bill. Just glorious.
@p.a.: You’re welcome.
@MagdaInBlack: Glad you like them.
@JPL: Thanks, glad you like them.
@Sab: Thanks, I think the first comet I saw was when I was 10, Comet Bennett.
@SiubhanDuinne: Thanks, I managed to get the two tails to come out.
@Laura Too: Thanks.
@?BillinGlendaleCA: My first was Kahoutek. Seems like yesterday, but that was 25 years ago.
Wow. Wow. Wow.
I agree with Baud, and I really like the one that isn’t quite centered between the rocks. Actually I really like all of them.
Beautiful! Thank you.
Just amazing, Bill, and I always love your photos! I couldn’t see the comet myself and this is the best vicarious experience yet. My favorite might be the first one, with the light of the sunset still near the horizon. Or the closeup of the Joshua tree with the comet behind it. Or, well, all of them.
Beyond spectacular, Bill.
Thank you for sharing these awe-inspiring photos with us.
The first comet I saw was Halley in 1985-86. Since the geometry of that perihelion wasn’t great, it wasn’t a brilliant naked-eye comet like, say, Hale-Bopp; you could see it if you had a good dark sky, but for most people it was an object for binoculars, a lot like NEOWISE. But it had been heavily hyped because of Halley’s historical associations–it was a comet with a story, a lot of stories. Ancient apparitions, the Bayeux Tapestry, Giotto, Mark Twain and comet pills. It was also the comet that first gave astronomers an inkling of what comets were. Space probes observed it up close. Some people were disappointed by the actual show, but for me it was fun.
I remember first seeing it in Pisces with binoculars sometime in the fall of ’85, and following it across the evening sky for a while, then getting up on the roof with my dad in the wee hours of the morning to see it at closest approach in the spring. It never looked like more than a fuzzy little blob, but knowing what it was, it was great.
@?BillinGlendaleCA: Beautiful shots and excellent commentary. Thank you.
I want to urge people who are able to support you on Patreon as I do. It’s great seeing the pictures early, and you are a valued commenter and artist here at BJ. These excursions aren’t free, and neither is your time and artistry!
@?BillinGlendaleCA: Did you photograph Lovejoy a couple of years ago?
I think Baud might be right, these are such great photos.
J R in WV
Great photos with the dim Ion Tail, well done!!
When you say “… I would have liked to center the comet between the two large rocks, but I was already at the edge of the rock I was shooting from.”
I’ve always been told that good composition means never centering anything if you can avoid it… so maybe better you were at the edge of the rock… — upon the other hand, I’ve been told rules are for suckers and beginners, so… now I forget if I was going to make a point.
Nice pictures, Bill, that’s the point!
ETA: Yet, on another hand, don’t be at the edge of a big boulder late at night alone in the desert!
Beautiful photos. Thanks. I’m jealous. Tried to view the comet from my street, but too much light pollution I think (looking northward toward San Francisco), plus a few trees partially obstructing the sky. And too lazy to drive up into the Santa Cruz Mountains…
@Sab: I think the last one I saw was Hale-Boop, with binoculars in the city.
@stinger: I would have liked to have centered it, but I was already on the edge of the rock. I guess I could have moved up the trail a bit, but I was a bit pressed for time on that one. My colleague didn’t want to shot that so I drove the 1/4 mile to there and hiked up the hill a bit.
@ljt: Glade you like them.
@arrieve: I have mixed feelings about that first one, I might have gone overboard on the color. I may try processing it again. I have reprocessed the Joshua Tree one to get rid of the bright spot(it’s a car headlight) just right of center in the foreground.
@Matt McIrvin: When I was growing up, we had an elderly neighbor down the street who saw Halley’s comet in 1910 as a child.
@Another Scott: Glad you like them, but you saw them a week ago. Thanks for the support and thanks for the plug. My patrons not only see the photos first, but see more than I display here.
@opiejeanne: Nope, the only other comet I’ve photographed was comet Wirtanen a couple of years ago. It was just a green ball since it’s tail was pointed away from earth.
@J R in WV: Yeah, the rule of thirds…rules are made to be broken! I was glad that I was able to capture the ion tail. I think using the tracker on those close shots helped.
@way2blue: We couldn’t see it here either, but I did try taking a shot and could, with a lot of photo manipulation, “see” NEOWISE.
Gorgeous shots. This is from Ronald WA, slightly east of the mountains. I don’t know how to post the photo directly in here, sorry.
@Kabecoo: Very nice!
Only front pagers can post photos directly in a comment. So you did it exactly right!