Chasing Night Sky Pixels


 Searching for Comet C/2022 E3

There is a comet in the night sky, just barely visible.  The last time it was visible to the night sky of earth was over 50,000 years ago.  It has a wonderful green hue to it which makes it something I really want to get a photo of.  So off I went to my favorite nighttime viewing spot.  This mesa sits in the bottom of Tule Canyon on HWY 207 just south of Lake Mackenzie in the panhandle of Texas.    I over laid the star charts on the photo of the mesa I took so you can see where the comet is.   Below is the photo without the over lay.


Now, I took some 1700 plus photos that night looking for the comet.  I never could get my zoom lens on it.  Here is the technique I use which is pretty amateurish, but I don't have great equipment.  So, I start off with my wide lens, then using the star chart apps I find the object in the sky, and then I start zooming in on it.  But remember the sky is really moving as I am doing it so if I zoom too fast, I lost it.  So, I zoom in a bit, shoot a photo, zoom in a bit more until I am fully zoomed in.  I can see the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter when I am fully zoomed in.  But I can lose things fast too. so, it is a slow process.  This night I was never able to zoom in on the comet.  Also remember it was about 12 degrees.

As I was photographing the sky, it closed up into fog, so homeward, I went. I love the way head lights look in the fog and there is a train track along the path I took.  The train lit up the fog so after passing it, I circled back and got two photos I like.  One had a semi passing by and the other is just the train in the fog.

Here is a time lapse, you have to go to YOU TUBE and my channel.  This gives you a idea of the movement of the stars.  The lighting up of the mesa in then middle happened when a car drove buy.  Also the video jumps.  In the middle of shooting the sequential photos which I then string together to a video, my camera buffered out.  What that means is the photos are stored temporarily in the camera before being written to the SD card.  If I get to many photos, the camera has to stop shooting and then download them to the storage card.  



Photographing that many shots of the night sky allows me to create an interesting image called star trails.  The star appears to be moving.  This is really a sort of illusion created by the Earth's spin.  The stars are really moving but so slowly that we can't see the movement.  But the earth spinning gives the illusion of seeing the stars move.  They circle the polar axis in the night sky.  This is the north polar axis.


I have 1000s of photographs of this mesa at night and in the day.  One night several years ago I caught the transit of the International Space Station, which is one of my favorite favorite photos.

I spent the day processing photos from the night sky and studying star charts and talking to a few folks much smarter than me.  

Not only did I have a solid plan to nail some great zoomed in comet images, but the moon was going pass right in front of Mars. 

And then life happened: 12 degrees and clouds. But hey if you let life get in the way of living you will never learn to dance. So here is last night's photo of the comet and the Moon-Mars Occultation.

Sigh...... hey, it's a nice pic at least.