I'd like to photograph NEOWISE from Los Angeles, what is the optimal time?

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I live in Los Angeles and have a camera adapter for my telescope -- nothing fancy just an Astromaster 114. What is the optimal time, in terms of dark sky and bright comet, to take a photo of Comet NEOWISE? I.e., when will it be brightest relative to the surround sky? When will it be largest?

And, lastly, what is the best time tonight to view it?

EDIT: I've spent the last two nights at sunset trying to locate it, but it doesn't really get dark until about an hour after sunset around 8pm. I also spent over an hour on the roof this morning from about 4am til 5:15am. I couldn't see it despite clear skies (or what passes for clear in LA).

You may try few hours before the sun rise tomorrow (12). Something to get started is here. https://theskylive.com/c2020f3-info

The bright start Capella, which is relatively easy to spot, could guide you to the comet.

Now that it has passed the perihelion of its orbit, it is receding from the Sun. So the brightness will gradually drop. Some details that might interest you are here.

http://astro.vanbuitenen.nl/comet/2020F3

I don't know if this is helpful but using the Python package Skyfield one can calculate the positions of things including comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) and the times that they rise and set for the month of July:

Here are the rise and set times of the Sun and the comet for reference for the next week

sunset: 2020-07-12T03:06:17Z sunrise: 2020-07-12T12:51:20Z sunset: 2020-07-13T03:05:55Z sunrise: 2020-07-13T12:51:56Z sunset: 2020-07-14T03:05:32Z sunrise: 2020-07-14T12:52:33Z sunset: 2020-07-15T03:05:07Z sunrise: 2020-07-15T12:53:10Z sunset: 2020-07-16T03:04:41Z sunrise: 2020-07-16T12:53:48Z sunset: 2020-07-17T03:04:13Z sunrise: 2020-07-17T12:54:27Z sunset: 2020-07-18T03:03:43Z sunrise: 2020-07-18T12:55:06Z cometset: 2020-07-12T04:15:12Z cometrise: 2020-07-12T10:46:43Z cometset: 2020-07-13T04:34:10Z cometrise: 2020-07-13T10:48:01Z cometset: 2020-07-14T04:54:27Z cometrise: 2020-07-14T10:51:29Z cometset: 2020-07-15T05:15:33Z cometrise: 2020-07-15T10:57:33Z cometset: 2020-07-16T05:36:48Z cometrise: 2020-07-16T11:06:45Z cometset: 2020-07-17T05:57:17Z cometrise: 2020-07-17T11:19:29Z cometset: 2020-07-18T06:16:07Z cometrise: 2020-07-18T11:36:02Z

Here's the python script:

from skyfield.api import Topos from skyfield.api import Loader from skyfield.data import mpc from skyfield import almanac import numpy as np import matplotlib.pyplot as plt from skyfield.constants import GM_SUN_Pitjeva_2005_km3_s2 as GM_SUN from skyfield.api import load loaddata = Loader('~/Documents/fishing/SkyData') # avoids multiple copies of large files ts = loaddata.timescale() # include builtin=True if you want to use older files (you may miss some leap-seconds) with load.open(mpc.COMET_URL) as f: comets = mpc.load_comets_dataframe(f) comets = comets.set_index('designation', drop=False) print(len(comets), 'comets loaded') row = comets.loc['C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE)'] print(row) eph = loaddata('de421.bsp') earth, sun, moon = [eph[x] for x in ('earth', 'sun', 'moon')] comet = sun + mpc.comet_orbit(row, ts, GM_SUN) times = ts.utc(2020, 7, range(1, 32)) ra, dec, distance = earth.at(times).observe(comet).radec() RA, Dec = [thing._degrees for thing in (ra, dec)] plt.plot(RA, Dec, 'ok') plt.gca().set_aspect('equal') plt.show() t0 = ts.utc(2020, 7, 12) t1 = ts.utc(2020, 7, 19) LA = Topos('34.05 N', '118.25 W') # 34.05, -118.25 times, is_sunrises = almanac.find_discrete(t0, t1, almanac.sunrise_sunset(eph, LA)) for time, is_sunrise in zip(times, is_sunrises): if is_sunrise: print('sunrise: ', time.utc_iso()) else: print('sunset: ', time.utc_iso()) times, is_rises = almanac.find_discrete(t0, t1, almanac.risings_and_settings(eph, comet, LA)) for time, is_sunrise in zip(times, is_rises): if is_sunrise: print('cometrise: ', time.utc_iso()) else: print('cometset: ', time.utc_iso())

Nothing is more helpful to an aspiring astronomer than a good planetarium program.

https://stellarium.org/

It will show you the sky from your doorstep at any time of the day. No need to speculate the comets position. It will be displayed exactly where it is in relation to the rest of the sky.

Comet Neowise shines bright over Northern California. Here are places to go, where to look

Redding photographer Frank Tona took this time-lapse video (looped three times) of Comet Neowise shining over Shasta County in July, 2020. Redding Record Searchlight

Get ready to greet a rare visitor to the inner solar system.

Comet Neowise is on a flyby of Earth this week. It’s visible to the naked eye in some parts of the North State, and through binoculars in places with ambient (town) light.

For the past week, California skywatchers had to go outdoors in the pre-dawn hours to catch a glimpse of the comet. That changes in Northern California this and next week, as Neowise gets brighter in the evening sky after the sun goes down.

“The comet is best viewed in the northwest sky, around an hour or so after sunset,” NASA’s NEOWISE science team co-investigator Emily Kramer said. “Each day, the comet will be a little higher in the sky, so it will be easier to view.”

This chart shows the appearance of Comet NEOWISE on the evenings of July 15&ndash23. Click for a higher-resolution version.Sky & Telescope

Evening visibility should peak this weekend according to astronomers. After that, Neowise will likely get more faint as it moves away from the sun, Kramer said. “Comets can surprise us, however, so there’s a chance it will continue to be bright for several more weeks.”

For best viewing in the North State, go out just after 10 p.m., Redding-based astrophotographer Frank Tona said.

“Find the Big Dipper in the northwest after sunset, then look below the ‘bowl’ of the dipper,” Kramer said. “The comet should be about a couple of fists at arm’s length below the bowl.”

Observational Report 07/07/2020: St. Augustine, Florida USA

When the alarm went off at 4:50 am, I debated for a bit whether to get out of bed because the weather forecast had been so poor. This time of year is hurricane season in Florida, so I was expecting to be let down by clouds. As I walked towards my east-facing bedroom window, I could see Venus the morning star shining clear and bright due east in the sky with some haze and light cirrus clouds present, but the clear sky was visible to the ENE.

I grabbed my gear and thought back to my previous attempts to observe and photograph dimmer magnitude 6+ comets that ended up being somewhat underwhelming experiences, so I did not want to get my hopes up. And with the comet only 4-5 degrees high in the sky, I had heard reports that it was difficult to initially spot without using averted vision, a technique sky gazers use to move a dim object away from the center of the eye where the optic nerve creates a blind spot. But I was cautiously optimistic this time would be different.

I used the iOS planetarium SkySafari the night before with my iPhone to know where to locate the comet. There are many alternatives, including Celestron's free SkyPortal (based on SkySafari) or you can use an online planetarium like TheSkyLive to see where the comet will be for your location and time. On a PC you can use a free program called Stellarium. By July 15th comet Neowise will transition to the evening, rising higher each night after sunset. Hopefully any loss in brightness will be offset as it climbs higher into the sky each night. You can see a chart with the estimated light curve of the comet over time at the TheSkyLive.

Star Chart for C/2020 F3 NEOWISE, July 14th - July 23rd 2020

On July 7th 2020 I knew from my planetarium software that at my 29.5N latitude, comet Neowise would only be 5-6 degrees above the horizon in the North East sky. I choose to go to a nearby park on a peninsula that is surrounded by water with clear horizons and a lighthouse that could be used for composition. I got out of the car at 5:15 am and looked NE to where SkySafari had shown the location of the comet in the constellation Auriga, below Capella. There was a clear gap between a bank of low-lying clouds on the horizon, and I was stunned to immediately see the comet easily (without averted vision) with a bright nucleus and streaming tail. For closer observation, I brought a pair of binoculars and a small 80mm refracting telescope that I mounted on my photo tripod. With the additional light-gathering power of the small telescope, I could resolve the yellow-colored nucleus with a dominant jet of dust coming off the top and smaller jet off the bottom! It was a very rewarding experience, behind the total solar eclipse a few years ago and the two fireball meteors I have seen while doing astrophotography. The comet was just above the dark, flat cloud in this snapshot I took with the iPhone 11 before packing up.

How to see fading comet Neowise before it leaves for 6,000 years

One of the most spectacular comets in decades still offers a rare opportunity for skywatchers, but the window's closing.

Comet Neowise as seen from the Czech Republic on the morning of July 6.

Comet Neowise , the most impressive comet in nearly 25 years, is giving sky watchers a last chance to catch it . The comet made its closest pass by Earth on Thursday and rose a little higher in the sky on July 24 and 25. From that point it's likely to get dimmer as it returns to deep space.

Emily Kramer, co-investigator on the science team for the NASA Neowise spacecraft that discovered the comet, noted that it's rare for a comet to be bright enough to see with the naked eye. "It's been quite a while," she told reporters last week. "The last time was 1995-1996 (with comet Hale-Bopp)."

Over the past couple of weeks, a number of amateur astrophotographers have shared stunning images of the comet captured as it appeared just above the horizon in predawn skies.

Light Pollution

How you can make a difference

1. Install lighting only when and where it's needed.
2. Use energy saving features such as timers and motion sensors on outdoor lights.
4. Tell friends, neighbors, and your workplace!

Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) rise and set times

Location: Greenwich, United Kingdom [change]
Latitude: 51° 28&rsquo 47&rdquo N
Longitude: 0° 00&rsquo 00&rdquo E
Timezone: Europe/London

Today's Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) rise, transit and set times from Greenwich, United Kingdom [change] are the following (all times relative to the local timezone Europe/London):

The rise and set times are defined as the time at which the upper limb of Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) touches the horizon, considering the effect of the atmospheric refraction. As the atmospheric conditions cannot be modeled precisely the times reported here should be considered correct with an approximation of few minutes.

C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE)

Just spotted it on the horizon, from polluted Orange county .

Almost "horizontal" tail and you can tell, compared to yesterday's night, how fast it is moving related to the sun.

Perhaps by Tuesday it will offer better photo opportunity, this is , at least in the evening, a "see it, blink and it is gone" kind of object .

I remember Hale-Bopp, and it was a bit brighter from my old house in the Caribbean . but NeoWise (Mr Anderson?) is putting a nice show!

Edited by nicoyenny, 12 July 2020 - 10:34 PM.

#302 kdenny2

Question for observers: I have only made an attempt to observe NEOWISE from a Bortle 4 zone, but I live in the heart of a very light polluted city. How does the view in a heavy LP zone compare to a lower LP zone? Is the tail just as obvious?

#303 EJN

Saw it this evening in 7 X 35 binoculars at 9:40pm. Very low to the horizon, was also hazy, but the dust tail

#304 Daveatvt01

Humidity was worse than previous days. it was visible naked eye, but just barely. A nice sight in 12x50's.

#305 Starman1

Question for observers: I have only made an attempt to observe NEOWISE from a Bortle 4 zone, but I live in the heart of a very light polluted city. How does the view in a heavy LP zone compare to a lower LP zone? Is the tail just as obvious?

Clear this am but not visible at all against the bright sky here in LA. All of LA lies that direction from me, so my night sky was blue like twilight.

The head cleared the trees about the time it was too light to see it.

I give up--I'll have to travel away from the city to see it at all.

Even Hale-Bopp only appeared like a little faint streak 1° long here in LA, but it was magnificent with twin tails many degrees long at a dark site a hundred miles away,

#306 Jure Atanackov

Another clear night, another observation. What a beautiful comet! Why isn't it two magnitudes brighter!? Had a go at it in the evening, it was OK - the sky is darker, but the tail is almost hugging the horizon. No thanks. But in the morning, the tail sticks out vertically above the horizon, textbook bright comet appearance. Nevermind the waning crescent moon, it is still annoying, but rapidly diminishing. And while the comet is fading slowly, it is IMHO still becoming more impressive! Both tails are still growing. This morning the dust tail had the typical curved 'scimitar' appearance of a Great comet. Nowhere near as long, or as bright, but reminiscent. I could again trace the dust tail several 11x70B FOVs, with the final 1/3 of the length again only visible by moving the FOV. The gas tail was tougher, entering a star field filled with bright stars. Both tails were also visible with the naked eye, although the gas tail was still difficult to see.

July 13.06UT: m1=2.0 dia=- DC=8 . NE, Jure Atanackov (Janče, Slovenia)[Impressive naked eye object. Curving dust tail 14° long visible with the naked eye, gas tail traced out to 7°. In 11x70B the coma is still small and highly condensed (dia=1-2', DC=8) with a yellowish central condensation. Dust tail is 16° long, gas tail 11°. Leading edge of the dust tail bright and well defined, following edge diffuse, forming a very faint fan with following edge at

45° ccw to the leading edge and about 10-15' out. Bright streamer running from the nucleus

2° into the dust tail. Apparently detached stria visible in the dust tail

6° from the coma. The final 1/3 of the dust tail only reliably detected by moving the FOV. Gas tail more difficult, the first 7° readily apparent, followed out to 11°, then lost in a rich star field. Average extinction coefficients used.]

I found out when you need EQ/Wedge

Last night I tried imaging M33 and I got a lot of subs at 2 minutes each. They looked okay when I was taking them, but when reviewing the images the next day I find that every single one has star trails except one good frame. I previously shot M13 using 15 second exposures and about 80% of those were good. They were really dim.

I'm not sure if it's field rotation or just the Alt-Az ratcheting, but the limit is probably less than one minute. It is probably not field rotation because I was able to capture one good image with crisp round stars. Most DSO's are too dim to put an optimal hump in the histogram at less than 1 minute exposure. Can't wait until I get my new tripod so I can put the OTA on the wedge.

Edited by audioengr, 22 October 2020 - 04:50 PM.

#2 barbarosa

Are you using SharpCap or a similar software, one that can compensate for drift and field rotation as it stacks? Your ASI 294 is sufficiently sensitive to capture stackable frames of DSOs at exposures under 1m, indeed under 30s. The only downside to "Live stacking"is that the image will appear to rotate and the edges of the image can become dark triangles, which you can ignore in the live session and if you like crop from a saved image.

With a wedge mount SharpCap Pro has another neat tool, the best polar alignment tool in the known universe.

Now the downside, it is life so there is always a downside or catch or a balloon payment. Other than the nightly setup of a wedge and mount on a tripod, I actually can't think of one. I had a CPC1100 on an HD Pro wedge on a pier, Great for EAA and the occasional foray into longer exposures.

#3 MarMax

I've only occasionally been able to use a 30 second exposure with the Alt-Az mount. And most of the time the limit is 15 seconds.

#4 Ittaku

Bought a wedge for my CPC1100 Edge HD, but since I don't do any longer DSO imaging, it sits in my study to remind me what a waste of money it was. Don't need it for viewing - it's actually far more cumbersome in place and less ergonomic, don't need it for planetary imaging, don't need it for live stacking, it takes much longer to set up, is much more precarious, and then the mount shudders much more with any touch or wind.

Edited by Ittaku, 22 October 2020 - 06:24 PM.

#5 audioengr

Are you using SharpCap or a similar software, one that can compensate for drift and field rotation as it stacks? Your ASI 294 is sufficiently sensitive to capture stackable frames of DSOs at exposures under 1m, indeed under 30s. The only downside to "Live stacking"is that the image will appear to rotate and the edges of the image can become dark triangles, which you can ignore in the live session and if you like crop from a saved image.

With a wedge mount SharpCap Pro has another neat tool, the best polar alignment tool in the known universe.

Now the downside, it is life so there is always a downside or catch or a balloon payment. Other than the nightly setup of a wedge and mount on a tripod, I actually can't think of one. I had a CPC1100 on an HD Pro wedge on a pier, Great for EAA and the occasional foray into longer exposures.

I'm using SharpCap. The problem is long exposures. Things are moving, maybe the mount, maybe the deck that it's on, maybe the house moving the deck. There was no person on the deck when these images were captured. I am in the process of shoring-up the deck and stiffening it. It was designed for this purpose, but never stiff enough.

I plan to use SharpCap for polar alignment.

#6 audioengr

I've only occasionally been able to use a 30 second exposure with the Alt-Az mount. And most of the time the limit is 15 seconds.

Good feedback. 15 seconds it is. I may have to take dim photos or crank up the gain and live with the noise for now. Tripod coming this week

#7 MarMax

Bought a wedge for my CPC1100 Edge HD, but since I don't do any longer DSO imaging, it sits in my study to remind me what a waste of money it was. Don't need it for viewing - it's actually far more cumbersome in place and less ergonomic, don't need it for planetary imaging, don't need it for live stacking, it takes much longer to set up, is much more precarious, and then the mount shudders much more with any touch or wind.

I've never had one but just looking at a C11 on a wedge looks percarious. Heavy, bulky, and that angle, just does not look right.

#8 Ittaku

I've never had one but just looking at a C11 on a wedge looks precarious. Heavy, bulky, and that angle, just does not look right.

The first time I put it on was absolutely hair-raising. Every so often I put it on for questionable reasons and I'm still scared now and end up regretting doing it. The OTA weighs 32kg lifting that even higher and holding it up on an angle and tightening up the critical bolt that will hold it perfectly balanced in place is really something else.

#9 audioengr

The first time I put it on was absolutely hair-raising. Every so often I put it on for questionable reasons and I'm still scared now and end up regretting doing it. The OTA weighs 32kg lifting that even higher and holding it up on an angle and tightening up the critical bolt that will hold it perfectly balanced in place is really something else.

My extra handle makes this fairly easy, but I only have an 8", so it's lighter.

#10 Noah4x4

People suggest 30 second exposures are the limit on an Alt-Az. I reckon it is more like 20 seconds despite the ability of quality stacking software like SharpCap.

A wedge will extend this perhaps up to 30 minutes, but changing the speed of your OTA from f/10 to f/6.3 then f/4 then f/2 offers ever more progressive incremental benefits. At f/2 a wedge is not required. Focal Reducers and ultimately Hyperstar make life easier. I found a wedge tedious and frustrating.

#11 Ittaku

My extra handle makes this fairly easy, but I only have an 8", so it's lighter.

I have two handles on my CPC1100, but 20kg versus 32kg is a pretty substantial difference.

#12 PLShutterbug

People suggest 30 second exposures are the limit on an Alt-Az. I reckon it is more like 20 seconds despite the ability of quality stacking software like SharpCap.

A wedge will extend this perhaps up to 30 minutes, but changing the speed of your OTA from f/10 to f/6.3 then f/4 then f/2 offers ever more progressive incremental benefits. At f/2 a wedge is not required. Focal Reducers and ultimately Hyperstar make life easier. I found a wedge tedious and frustrating.

See what you typed in bold. How does the f/stop eliminate the need for a wedge? Sure, each exposure will be shorter, but unless that exposure is so short and gathers so much light for a single frame to suffice, in less than the time it takes for field rotation to have an impact, you still will get field rotation.

You may be able to shorten individual exposures to effectively eliminate rotation per image, but if you stack many images you end up cutting the edges of the frame if you are using an Alt/Az mount. Over many frames that will encroach on your effective field of view.

#13 mikenoname

What you are missing is the rate of light collection is the square of the focal ratio. So F/2 is 25 times faster at collecting the same amount of light as f/10 is.

So at f/2 a 15-second exposure (typically a safe limit for imaging on an Alt-Az) is usually more than enough to capture even very faint objects well.

#14 Ittaku

If you're looking to image large DSO objects and have a Celestron that allows you attach a hyperstar attachment, that's a much better investment than the wedge.

#15 Noah4x4

If you're looking to image large DSO objects and have a Celestron that allows you attach a hyperstar attachment, that's a much better investment than the wedge.

True, but I think we should suggests people contemplating Astrophotography are always best investing in a GEM mount from the outset. I didn't, and bought an Alt-Az, hence wrestled with a wedge, then faced the decision buy a GEM or Hyperstar. It's been a roller coaster ride.

Had I bought a GEM, it would not have diminished my enjoyment during my visual astronomy phase during which I discovered that local light pollution was an issue. It was that which provoked me to embrace a camera rather than any interest in photography. Even today, I rarely save images as I am basically an observer. My attitude remains if I want to look at saved pictures I might as well look at Hubble images. The camera is simply to assist my eyes, hence I am a true exponent of Electronically Assisted Astronomy (I prefer to call it EAO = observing).

If I had originally purchased a GEM, that would have given me a better platform to explore AP, which tends to start with what you already have (e.g. DSLR and long bulb exposures). Folk tend to discover EAA techniques and short exposures after experiencing the challenges of long exposure AP on any mount (cos it isn't easy!). My dream rig would be Hyperstar on a GEM, but having plunged so deeply into the Alt-Az money pit and solved a gazillion problems using compromises, I can't justify to myself spending even more cash on a second mount when my first still serves me well. The trouble is that a beginner rarely considers that he/she might soon embrace a camera and thats why we make so many poor choices. But it suits retailers. Count how many mounts the average CN members owns or has owned. But my Alt-Az with Hyperstar (no wedge) and occasional use of Focal Reducer at f/6.3 (No wedge) and extreme short stacked exposures work well for me.

Edited by Noah4x4, 24 October 2020 - 01:12 AM.

#16 Ittaku

True, but I think we should suggests people contemplating Astrophotography are always best investing in a GEM mount from the outset. I didn't, and bought an Alt-Az, hence wrestled with a wedge, then faced the decision buy a GEM or Hyperstar. It's been a roller coaster ride.

No argument from me on that, but if you have an altaz, as you have, the choice isn't so clear, and the wedge in my study reminds me I chose badly.

#17 Noah4x4

I wonder if we did a study of wedge ownership what perecentage of purchasers are still using theirs, and how many wedges have been discarded in favour of Short Exposure EAA and/or Hyperstar or GEM? I suspect that for a great many folk a wedge is merely a passing phase before buying a GEM or Hyperstar.

#18 eBird

Well, although I've been out of astrophotography (and astronomy for the most part) for quite some time (I'm about to get back into it in a big way), I thought I'd add my .02. I'm clearly in need of significant updating in my AP knowledge, as back when I used to do it, it was all about chilled cameras, and egad, FILM. Yes, I actually used to to sit there for 60-70 minutes, eye glued to an off axis guider with my butt freezing, nudging my Meade 2080 LX2 to stay on target. I recall Fuji Film 1000 as one of my favorites, and the 400 variety for brighter DSO's. That was 1985. I still have that scope! Last time I used it was to piggyback my DSLR to get some good NEOWISE photos. My plan now is a CGX 925HD if one ever gets back into stock somewhere.

So, back on topic. I don't even know what a Hyperstar is (going to google it when I quit typing, then I'll be an expert ), and have barely gotten into stacking software, so am clearly light-years behind everyone's knowledge here, but regarding aesthetics and ease of use with a 8" SCT and wedge, I feel somewhat qualified to weigh in for the original poster. I'm sure an 11" is a different story, but a fork mounted 8" SCT is quite easy to drop onto a wedge for nightly use. I've done this thousands of times and while I'm sure today's computerized mounts are a little heavier, the OTA isn't, and should not be any more difficult. Sure it takes more time to polar align etc. than alt-az, but that ain't easy with a GEM, either. I'm going GEM just because I've never owned one before and do have AP as my primary interest, but sure do love the ergonomics of a fork mount, even ON a wedge.

Carry on, and I'm happy to be involved in astronomy again!

#19 audioengr

If you're looking to image large DSO objects and have a Celestron that allows you attach a hyperstar attachment, that's a much better investment than the wedge.

I have both. I am planning to try rotating the mount through all three positions in order to find the sweet-spot for the mount on the wedge and polar alignment, if there is any.

It's unfortunate that the motor is actually in the moving part of the mount rather than the stationary part. Motor near the bottom would probably be more consistent with less backlash.

My Tripod finally came last night, so putting it together today if the weather allows.

#20 audioengr

Well, although I've been out of astrophotography (and astronomy for the most part) for quite some time (I'm about to get back into it in a big way), I thought I'd add my .02. I'm clearly in need of significant updating in my AP knowledge, as back when I used to do it, it was all about chilled cameras, and egad, FILM. Yes, I actually used to to sit there for 60-70 minutes, eye glued to an off axis guider with my butt freezing, nudging my Meade 2080 LX2 to stay on target. I recall Fuji Film 1000 as one of my favorites, and the 400 variety for brighter DSO's. That was 1985. I still have that scope! Last time I used it was to piggyback my DSLR to get some good NEOWISE photos. My plan now is a CGX 925HD if one ever gets back into stock somewhere.

So, back on topic. I don't even know what a Hyperstar is (going to google it when I quit typing, then I'll be an expert ), and have barely gotten into stacking software, so am clearly light-years behind everyone's knowledge here, but regarding aesthetics and ease of use with a 8" SCT and wedge, I feel somewhat qualified to weigh in for the original poster. I'm sure an 11" is a different story, but a fork mounted 8" SCT is quite easy to drop onto a wedge for nightly use. I've done this thousands of times and while I'm sure today's computerized mounts are a little heavier, the OTA isn't, and should not be any more difficult. Sure it takes more time to polar align etc. than alt-az, but that ain't easy with a GEM, either. I'm going GEM just because I've never owned one before and do have AP as my primary interest, but sure do love the ergonomics of a fork mount, even ON a wedge.

Carry on, and I'm happy to be involved in astronomy again!

I got the wedge primarily because I take the mount and the OTA in each night. They are very portable and I can carry them up and down a flight of stairs each time. I tried this with my original scope, which was a small Eq mount and it was so cumbersome I never wanted to use it. There is no way I would leave an EQ mount, particularly an expensive one outside, even covered.

Once the tripod and the wedge are nailed-down to the deck, I should not have to do polar alignment ever again. Just put the mount on and then the OTA and I'm off and running. I am doing my best to take out all of the slop so it's dead-nuts-on.

• Aperture: 2.8f or set to widest available (lowest number)
• Exposure: 20 - 25 seconds. If you use a longer exposure than this you’ll start to see star trails from the stars moving (unless you want that effect). This also varies slightly based on your camera sensor/lens but with my setup here, the sweet spot was 20 - 25 seconds.
• ISO: 5000-6400. Adjust based on your liking. The higher the ISO the ‘brighter’ the photo but it’ll also introduce more image noise. I found 6400 to be good for a detailed milky way photo and 5000 for a darker more ‘dramatic’ photo.
• Set the camera on a 2 second delay/self timer. This is extremely important because otherwise the slight motion of you pressing the shoot button will cause motion blur in your photo. This way, you have time to click the shutter button and step away.
• Don’t zoom. For photographing the sky zooming will usually lower the quality of the photo and make it darker.
• Sky: Completely dark, clear, no/minimal clouds.
• Moon: No moon in the sky: New moon or before moonrise or after moonset.
• No terrestrial lights nearby that your camera would be able to pick up. Any nearby lights like campfires/lanterns should be blocked from view of your camera.
• Milky Way Position: If you can’t clearly see the Milky Way or find it in the sky, use a night sky app to locate it. It’ll help to do some research before you head out so you know generally where the Milky Way will be and plan your shot accordingly. For example in the northern hemisphere the Milky Way core doesn’t ever rise too far above the horizon so it’s more difficult to get an unobstructed shot of the core, whereas in the southern hemisphere the galactic core can be directly overhead. (The shots taken in this post were all from the Southern Hemisphere)

Thanks to modern science and technology though, predicting weather, Milky Way positioning, moon phases and dark sky areas are just a quick internet search away and with proper planning you’ll be able to maximize your chance of being out during the right conditions. If you can see the Milky Way with your naked eye, then you’ve got perfect conditions. If you can barely kinda see it, conditions are decent enough and you’ll probably still be able to capture it with you camera.

So you’ve got your equipment, settings in mind and are in the right conditions. Now comes the exciting part!

Amazing photos of Comet NEOWISE from the Earth and space

Comet NEOWISE beamed into view this summer, glowing bright enough for skywatchers to spot it with the naked eye under dark skies. Skywatchers, spacecraft and even astronauts at the International Space Station have captured incredible photos of the icy wanderer. Click through this gallery to see images of the comet captured from Earth and space.

Here: An unprocessed image from NASA's Parker Solar Probe shows Comet NEOWISE on July 5, 2020, shortly after its closest approach to the sun.

The International Space Station seems to cross paths with Comet NEOWISE in the morning sky over Rome, Italy, in this photo captured by astrophysicist Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope Project, on July 7, 2020.

Russian cosmonaut Ivan Vagner captured this view of Comet NEOWISE from the International Space Station on July 4, 2020.

NASA astronaut Bob Behnken, who arrived at the International Space Station May 31 with SpaceX's Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission, captured this image of Comet NEOWISE from the International Space Station on July 4, 2020.

NASA photographer Bill Ingalls captured this image of Comet NEOWISE over Washington, D.C. before sunrise on July 12, 2020.

Comet NEOWISE is pictured above the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. before sunrise on July 12, 2020, in this view captured by NASA photographer Bill Ingalls.

A closer view shows Comet NEOWISE glowing above the top of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. before sunrise on July 12, 2020.

Astrophysicist Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope Project captured this view of Comet NEOWISE above the St. Peter's Basilica in Rome before sunrise on July 10, 2020.

Alexander Krivenyshev of WorldTimeZone.com captured this view of Comet NEOWISE and the constellation Auriga over New York City, on July 8, 2020.

Processed data from the WISPR instrument on NASA’s Parker Solar Probe shows greater detail in the twin tails of comet NEOWISE, as seen on July 5, 2020. The lower, broader tail is the comet’s dust tail, while the thinner, upper tail is the comet’s ion tail.

Skywatcher Michael Jager captured this view of Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3) on June 26 with a telescope.

Astrophotographer Chris Schur captured this view of Comet NEOWISE F3 from Payson, Arizona before dawn on July 5, 2020.

Astrophotographer Chris Schur captured this view of Comet NEOWISE F3 from Payson, Arizona, before dawn on July 5, 2020.

These false-color images of Comet NEOWISE show the concentration of sodium atoms in the comet's dusty ion tail. Astronomers created the images using the Planetary Science Institute's Input/Output facility near Tucson, Arizona. The image on the left shows light reflected off of cometary dust, while the image on the right shows light emitted by sodium atoms.