A once in a 6800 year opportunity, photographing Comet NEOWISE was a new challenge for me. We had seen the comet the night before, from within the city limits, with a lot a light pollution, so I wanted to get out of the city and hope to capture a few shots.
I haven’t done any destination astrophotography before, so of course I loaded up on all of my equipment, including my telescope; a Celestron Powerseeker 127 equatorial mount reflector. My hope was to use the t-ring for some close up shots of Saturn, Jupiter, or even the comet. While I didn’t pull out the t-ring after all, my telephoto lens with a 1.4 extender did the trick and I was able to capture a picture of Jupiter with four of its moons.
My brother-in-law joined me and we drove about 30 minutes out of town into the surrounding farm fields to try and escape the city lights. We then spent another 20 minutes trying to find the best spot where we had a clear view of the surrounding sky. We ended up on the shoulder of a dirt road next to a corn field. Over the next two hours we saw one car in the distance, which allowed us to setup our shots without the glare of headlights or streetlights. We managed to catch the last of the sunset before the stars came out.
Comet NEOWISE was easy to find, as it was directly below the Big Dipper. The clouds and trees added the necessary structure to the shots.
The clouds continued to build and hid the comet from view at times. I took the opportunity to get a wider shot of the Big Dipper.
As the sky darkened, more stars came out and I opted for a longer exposure to capture the cloud movement.
I moved to wider shots to capture more stars and the texture of the horizon.
The light breeze meant that longer exposures caused some blur in the trees and clouds, allowing the steadier objects to be more prevalent.