Stalking the Skies and NEOWISE

The NEOWISE comet at Red Top Mountain, GeorgiaNEOWISE Comet


Have you seen the NEOWISE comet? 

Ever since my sister brought the comet to my attention, I've wanted to shoot it. 

I'm not that great at shooting the night sky. It takes a lot of practice, and since I live in the city, it's tough. I have to drive about two hours to find a place that's dark enough. 

That didn't stop Lauren and me from finding a place on Thursday evening to at least try and get some photos of the comet. 

Lauren found a parking lot on top of Kennesaw Mountain on Google Maps that looked promising. We went there first. 


The parking lot was full, it was super crowded, and almost no one was wearing a mask or social distancing. 

And...the road up to the lot at the top was closed.

We'd have to walk up 1-1/2 miles with all our gear, and it was about 90 degrees out.

The viewing area at the top closed at dusk, and if you didn't move your car out of the parking lot at the bottom at dusk, you risked getting locked in or even towed, according to the park ranger we spoke with. 

Not a good option since to shoot NEOWISE, we'd have to wait until full dark. 

We decided to drive further north and see if we could find a place, any place, to pull over and get some photos after dark. 

We lucked out!

We saw a sign for Red Top Mountain and followed it up. 

We ended up at a pretty little boating area that had what appeared to be enough elevation that we'd have at least a chance at seeing the comet. 

We parked and pulled out all our stuff. 

There were quite a few people there, but most were at least social distancing and many had masks, so we felt comfortable being there. We had our masks if anyone got close!

We got out and set up with only a few minutes to spare. 

I did my first LIVE Facebook. I'm not crazy about being on video, and I realized later I did it from the wrong account - my personal account instead of my Susan J Photography account, but it wasn't too bad. 

I'll have to give it another shot...

I can't tell you how great it felt to be out somewhere, set up on the tripod, and shooting. Other than being hot and humid, it was a beautiful evening. 

The sunset was gorgeous.

I had my Nikon with the wide-angle lens (17mm-30mm) on the tripod for sunset. Here's one of the sunset shots:

Red Top Mountain at Sunset

Quite a few people gathered in hopes of seeing NEOWISE. 

After it was dark, I heard someone excitedly say, "There it is!"

I searched the sky but I couldn't see it.

I looked through the Sony viewfinder but all I could see was "noise" and a black sky. 

I took a photo to see what would happen. When the photo processed, I took a look, and what do you know? There was NEOWISE! focus! It's so hard getting the night sky in focus!

I couldn't see it with my naked eye but my Sony mirrorless with the 55mm-210mm lens could see it!

I took quite a few shots.

I wasn't super happy with the color profile in the photos.

Then again, I'm not crazy about the Sony a6000 color profile a lot of the time, but I needed the close-up lens I have on the Sony so I'd be able to capture the comet. 

The cover photo was edited, and I added a previous night sky to the shot. 

Without that shot edited in, it looks like this:

Unedited photo of NEOWISE

You can't see any other stars because there's too much light pollution.

I like giving my shots a painterly feel too, so, in addition to more stars, I did some other editing. That's why I like the top cover shot better.

I'm guessing some people will like the darker photo better because the comet is a little brighter. 

Which one do you like best?

The beauty of shooting at Red Top Mountain was we only had a 45-minute drive home, instead of 2 to 2-1/2 hours! 

I was in bed by 1 a.m. instead of 3:30 or so like the last time we tried shooting the night sky. 

I love the thought of the comet blasting its way through the sky. It's so cool. Talk about a world traveler. The comet's a worlds traveler! 

I don't know about you, but I'm ready to travel again. Here's hoping that COVID doesn't hang around much longer. 

My daughter's roommate had the virus last week. We're waiting to hear my daughter's test results, and it's taking forever. 

Thankfully, her roommate seems fine now. 

My heart and prayers go out to those who've lost loved ones to this virus. 

I hope you're all staying healthy...

See you between the raindrops:)


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