Comet NEOWISE (Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) is making its brief appearance over the northern hemisphere right now, and I finally dragged myself out of the house to try and photograph it. As with the 2017 solar eclipse, I was feeling pretty ambivalent about the whole thing, and didn’t convince myself to do something until pretty late. In its first week, the comet was only being seen in the middle of the night, and I had little desire to roam about at 3-4am. So I waited until it changed positions and began appearing earlier. Then I went out and snapped a few photos.
On top of that, I’ve been too lazy to actually leave the city… not a great choice for astrophotography given all the light pollution here in Seattle. But I sort of got obsessed with the idea of lining the comet up with some our local icons. On my first night, I traveled to West Seattle to check the views there. By then, the comet was out over the water, away from the downtown skyline, so the best I could do was grab a tight shot or two with my 600mm lens.
After I realized I wouldn’t get much in the way of interesting wide shots from that spot, I headed up to the University of Washington. The comet was appearing in northwest skies, and one of my favorite views of Husky Stadium looked to the northwest. Could I get the comet above the stadium?
That night I was a bit light (the comet was higher are farther west earlier), but the alignment wasn’t quite right anyway. I knew if I waited a couple nights I’d get a better opportunity to line the two up. The Big Dipper could also be included in some of these compositions.
Sure enough, I went back a couple days later, and things were much better… aside from the insane amount of boat traffic late at night. Leisure vessels were cruising by until close to midnight, and I got to hear just about every kind of music emanating from their speakers. A nice soundtrack to the night, but all that traffic really messed with my clean reflections in the water!
Anyway, the comet was fairly faint given all the light pollution, but it was a pretty scene and you might enjoy some of the resulting photos. You can order prints both here from my website and my Pixels/FineArtAmerica store (the latter is best for framed prints or gift items). There’s also a free desktop wallpaper at bottom if you’d like to download that.
As promised, here’s a free desktop wallpaper: