C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) Comet

C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) Comet in the northwest sky after sunset at Duck Creek C.A.

The NEOWISE Comet, whose actual name is C/2020 F3, was a pleasant surprise for the astronomical community who await such events as a newly discovered comet. First discovered in late March, the comet grew steadily brighter, eventually becoming the brightest comet to be seen in the northern hemisphere since Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. According to the experts, this comet had an orbital period of about 4,400 years prior to making its latest trip through the inner solar system. It will now be another 6,700 years before beings on earth will be able to see it again.

C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) Comet image taken at 200 mm focal length

I have long had a very strong interest in astronomy and astrophotography and the current pandemic has allowed me to do quite a bit of studying on both topics. Hopefully soon I can get the practice in this area that I desperately need. Although it has some issues, I was relatively pleased at capturing the closeup of the comet pictured above.

Although I had a star-tracking mount that would have been perfect for this situation, I had not yet used it so I did not make this the first time. This image was “untracked” using a full-frame camera and a 200 mm lens. It is comprised of 20 “light” images (the actual photos of the comet) taken at 3.2 seconds per exposure. The aperture was f/2.8 and the ISO/gain was 6400. I combined these images with 10 “dark” frames for noise reduction purposes.

The processing here could be better and I might give it another try sometime. But, both tails of the comet are visible and I think the background stars came out alright as well.

Milky Way at Lee’s Bluff, MO

After awhile the comet began to dive towards the horizon with the remnant glow from twilight. I happened to show up at Lee’s Bluff on the same night as accomplished Missouri nightscape photographer, Dan Zarlenga, and so we both turned our tripods around to the south and found this lovely scene. Here, the Milky Way has recently risen above a nice foreground of trees. Again, I wish I would have been a bit more prepared with a plan, but I guess this isn’t too bad.



Sao Paulo Nightscape

I was fortunate enough to stay a night in a hotel on the 21st floor overlooking a small portion of Sao Paulo.  Here is what the Wiki says about this city: “São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, the largest city proper in the southern hemisphere, in the Americas, and the world’s seventh largest city by population.”

Sao Paulo Nightscape
Sao Paulo Nightscape

A Very Vernal Venture

Happy Sunday everyone.  Don’t get too excited, Monday is just around the corner… 😉

Compared to the past several years, spring was a bit tardy coming around.  However, on the trails of the northern Missouri Ozarks, she showed in full splendor this weekend.  I started off yesterday morning wanting to visit a few places in the Steelville/Salem area and first stopped at Red-Bluff recreation Area along the Huzzah Creek.  I hiked the trail and listened to the Parula, Yellow-throated Warblers and Black and White Warblers as they advertized their newly forming territories.  I checked out the bluff and looked in vain for the Davidson Natural Bridge nearby.  If anyone has any information to pass on concerning how to find this feature, I’d appreciate it.

From there I headed to Zahorsky Woods, an approximately 50 acre, high-quality wooded lot owned by TNC.  I was having some trouble finding the trailhead I was looking for when a friendly man named Bob stopped and helped me out.  He explained he was one of the owners of the neighboring Wildwood Spring Lodge, and invited me to park on his property and use the trailheads not only to Zahorsky Woods, but to the trail network that runs on his property.  He gave me a quick description and directions to some interesting features, including Steelville Natural Bridge that sets nearby the Meramec River.  Thanks Bob!  The views from the bluffs on both of these properties were very nice and the flood plain within Zohorsky was full of ephemeral wildflowers and other interesting things to see.

My next stop was Sutton Bluff, which rests along the Black River.  Very birdy and a nice hike.  The view from the top leaved a bit to be desired due to the fact that the very nice campgrounds filled most of the valley!  It should be quite a site from below during autumn, however.

Photos from these location will follow in the near future.  My final stop was to Hughes Mountain near Ironton for a sunset and attempts at some “nightscapes”.  Steve joined me after his long shift at the hospital and kept me company on top of this windy Ozark peak.  The image below is probably my best from what I attempted last night.  Not terrible for my first serious attempt, but far from perfect.  Being reared and still residing in the big city, every time I can see a night’s sky like this is extremely special for me.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to see this on any clear night.  I can’t wait to try this some more!

You can find my, hopefully exhaustive, list of wildflowers in bloom and bird list below the picture.  I am still waiting to find a Brown Creeper in 2014.. 😦

Please enjoy your spring.  Like childhood, they do not last long enough.


“Sky Envy″

Technical details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera, Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG, ISO 640,  f/3.2, 30 sec




·         Cutleaf Toothwort (on the backside of their season)

·         Harbinger of Spring (almost done)

·         Spring Beauty (in the spectacular peak of their season)

·         Pussytoes

·         Rue Anemone (in their peak.  Is there anything more precious than a bunch of these buds immediately before opening?  )

·         False Rue Anemone (near the peak)

·         Bloodroot (only a few remaining)

·         Dutchman’s Breeches (getting a nice start)

·         White Dogtooth Violet

·         Long-leaved Bluets

·         Leavenworthia

·         Saxifrage

·         Pale Violet


·         Hoary Puccoon

·         Large Bellwort

·         Celandine Poppy

·         Yellow Violet

·         Buttercup (Ranunculus)


·         Indian Paintbrush


·         Bluebells

·         Round-lobed Hepatica

·         Blue Phlox

·         Bird’s Foot Violet

·         Johnny Jump Up

·         Blue Violet



·         Canada Goose

·         Wood Duck

·         Mallard

·         Great-Blue Heron

·         Turkey Vulture

·         Red-tailed Hawk

·         Red-shouldered Hawk

·         Broad-winged Hawk

·         Cooper’s Hawk

·         Sharp-shinned Hawk

·         American Kestral

·         Barred Owl

·         Whip-poor-will

·         American Woodcock

·         Belted Kingfisher

·         Red-headed Woodpecker

·         Downey Woodpecker

·         Hairy Woodpecker

·         Pileated Woodpecker

·         Red-bellied Woodpecker

·         Northern Flicker

·         Eastern Pheobe

·         Great-crested Flycatcher

·         Eastern Kingbird

·         White-eyed Vireo

·         Yellow-throated Vireo

·         Red-eyed Vireo

·         Bell’s Vireo

·         Blue Jay

·         American Crow

·         Fish Crow

·         Tree Swallow

·         Bank Swallow

·         Carolina Chickadee

·         Tufted Titmouse

·         White-breasted Nuthatch

·         Carolina Wren

·         Ruby-crowned Kinglet

·         Golden-crowned Kinglet

·         Blue-grey Gnatcatcher

·         Eastern Bluebird

·         Mourning Dove

·         Hermit Thrush

·         American Robin

·         Northern Mockingbird

·         Brown Thrasher

·         Grey Catbird

·         European Starling

·         Northern Parula

·         Chestnut-sided Warbler

·         Yellow-rumped Warbler

·         Yellow-throated Warbler

·         Pine Warbler

·         Black and White Warbler

·         Louisiana Waterthrush

·         Ovenbird

·         Worm-eating Warbler

·         Kentucky Warbler

·         Eastern Towhee

·         Chipping Sparrow

·         Dark-eyed Junco

·         Song Sparrow

·         Swamp Sparrow

·         Field Sparrow

·         White-throated Sparrow

·         Northern Cardinal

·         Red-winged Blackbird

·         Common Grackle