After these trips to Alaska, West Virginia, and Northern Canada, I felt like I was neglecting the California parks…so I packed up the wagon for a weekend outing to the greater Yosemite region, where I planned to take advantage of the full moon for landscapes, hunt for some wildlife, autumn colors, and if lucky do some astrophotography for the Leonid meteor shower…most importantly, try to spot the Comet ISON in the pre-dawn hours.
As ISON approaches perihelion it is predicted to grow brighter, but it is unclear what exactly will happen after that. The two more dramatic possibilities for the comet, after it completes it swing around the sun, are the following: It may increase in brightness and tail(s) length and be visible to the naked eye, or alternatively it may evaporate into nothingness. November 16-18, the comet is visible at approximately 04:00 near the star Spica in the constellation Virgo. So the time is now to guarantee a view of this celestial body….because it may be now or never…soo yeah.
So having said that, I wasn’t actually able to see the comet ISON this weekend…unfortunately. On Friday night from Glacier Point, a thin cloud cover combined with the very waxing gibbous moon eliminated all but the brightest stars. Saturday night, near Mono Lake looked more promising with crystal clear and cold skies, but no can do. Under the power of the now full moon and with high mountains to the east towards Nevada, the comet wouldn’t be visible until it rose above those mountains, which didn’t happen until about 05:00. With encroaching astronomical twilight at this hour, the comet was completely obscured…
The moon and clouds also washed out any Leonids.
But despite a failed astro photography weekend, it was a great weekend with significantly better than expected results.
The thin cloud cover, that ruined the astro part, made for incredible sunrise photography at Glacier Point, and the full moon extended the shooting hours long into the night (without having to switch my technique and mindset to astrophotography). The autumn colors were vibrant in the valley. And I had some success with my primary photographic passion: wildlife photography.
At the moment, I have only reviewed about 20 photos from the weekend, but I will process more images tonight and include them in a more descriptive post….I also need to finish processing the Churchill photos and translate my handwritten notes into a post…I know, being backed up is usually never good, but when you have too many photos to process it is a good problem…