For the past week I’ve left my house around 9:30pm and head to a park on the edge of the neighborhood in hopes of catching a glimpse of the Neowise comet in the northwestern sky. Unfortunately on these outings, the most I saw was a tiny, unfocused smudge – through binoculars. So when a friend invited me along for a nighttime photography session up at Loveland Pass, it sounded like a golden opportunity to hopefully see the comet a little clearer.
We drove up 70 and got off before the Eisenhower tunnel, climbing higher and higher on the roadway. At the top was a crowded parking area and crowds with cameras trudging up a steep, rocky trail on a treeless mountainside. We grabbed our layers, packed our gear and started the climb. About 300 yards up, we stopped at at mostly-level outcrop and set up our tripods. We checked our settings and waited for it to get dark.
As the sun set and the moon rose it started to get cold. So cold in fact that I had to pace to keep warm. When that failed to offset the uncontrollable shivers, we hiked halfway down, where the wind was less bitter and the cold more tolerable. We reset up our equipment and scanned the sky. Then saw nothing.
Eventually my friend noticed a smudge below the lowest point of the big dipper. (Despite wearing my glasses, I couldn’t see it.) We pointed our lenses at the area and snapped pics. The preview screen in the back of my camera lit up and there it was! Dead center in the night sky! My silly human eyes were no match for the light sensitive technology of my little Canon Rebel T6i. We snapped away for over an hour then pivoted to capture a few shots of the milky way before packing up.
I’m not going to lie – I was dissappointed to not be able to see it with my own eyes, but am in awe of what my camera could see and capture. Plus I learned alot about photographing the sky at night.