Shoot for the Stars, You Might as well See a Comet… or Not.

Since I was a kid, I loved to stare at the skies full of stars. I remember coming from the school on a crisp frosty Russian evening, I would locate a certain constellation of three stars and wonder what they are called (probably should look it up). If lucky to get out of the city on an August night, in a field, you can see literally all the stars that there are with your bare eyes. Those times I didn’t possess any particular equipment apart from the said eyes to enjoy the beauty of the night skies, but now I do. So, given a chance, I really enjoy going out to the desert (our version of the field in the Middle East) and shoot some stars.

So, as you might know, there was the Neowise comet in the skies this summer, so two of my photographer friends and I (plus a husband providing transportation and moral support) decided to go look at this phenomenon in the skies, as the next time you can see it will be in 6000 years, and it is unlikely that we will be able to go then.

One thing needs to be said is that it gets harder and harder to find the spot without much light pollution, unless you go deep into the Abu Dhabi desert (which at the moment is not really achievable due to the border being closed between two cities; we can’t travel back and forth without an appointment for corona test, and the next appointment bookable today is in a month or so).

And it’s hot. And none of us really possess a car with off-road possibilities, so we just went to the closest to Dubai desert that is called Al Qudra. From my photos you will see, that there is a ton of light pollution. And dust. And haze. Dubai summer is always full of haze. But who cares? Adventure prevails. I still find the result photos quite beautiful even with the haze, you can see the freaking stars! In Dubai-city you can see two and a half stars, and even though Al Qudra is not perfect, you can see the Milky Way! I think I made it work… ah yes, about the comet.

So, I have the app called “Sky Guide” that can tell me about the stars, when pointing at them, and you could also find the comet in the app (or so we thought). With the apps help it’s gonna be easy, right? Huh, a breezer, we just gonna point our lenses in the direction of the comet that is indicated in the app – easy peasy. My friend Sami rented a long-long lens hoping to get to see the comet in details, but if you get to use one of those, you will find out that is not easy to find the thing you’re looking for in the viewfinder, because everything is dark and looks sort of similar. This is the view, so that you understand what I am talking about. That thing on the horizon is Dubai with all its lights, and this thing in the sky is the moon.

And the comet is in the photo as well, but we just failed to see it because the application kept telling us that it is to the left of the central tree in this photo. Now, today, I can see right away where it is in this photo even though it is so small and doesn’t look anything different from a regular star (apart from a little tail it has with it). Frankly speaking, it was underwhelming. We looked, and looked, and wondered if it is too late already as the news website told us to look for it at 19-40, but it wasn’t really dark enough then yet… or if the comet is now too far from the Earth and we can’t see it? Bottom line is that we went out to see the comet, and we didn’t see it. But, when I came home and I looked at the photos on the big screen, I found it. And it didn’t look like in the photos we saw on the internet previously. Maybe, it just didn’t look like that or it didn’t look like that in our region, whatever the case, I will show you now where it is, so that you can see it as well.

Another variant of the same scene.

Maybe a better location would have made it a better experience, but I find it rather funny how often you go out with an idea of shooting something, and then you end up with a completely different thing – just learn to look the other way before deciding to pack up and leave the location altogether after you haven’t managed to shoot what you planned in the first place.

Cause on the other side there was a little man-made lake and some cool looking trees, as well as the Milky Way!

Without the Moon in the shot, it actually looks less disturbing, but the light pollution is still quite awful. This photo is the stitch of 17 vertical shots photographed on a cropped-sensor camera with a 16mm lens.

Them looking for that comet

Stargazing is always is cool, even if you don’t always find the star or a comet you’ve been looking for.

Take care of each other, and don’t forget to make a wish if you see a shooting star.



4 thoughts on “Shoot for the Stars, You Might as well See a Comet… or Not.

  1. Night photography can be a lot of fun and often involve some trial and error. Your 4th composition is my favorite. Maybe a little added contrast would bring out the stars better. I caught the comet but it was when it wasn’t at its strongest. At any rate it rekindled my interest in doing some night/star photography. I’m waiting for no moon or when it comes up very late for those dark skies. My home in SW Colorado was just designated a Dark Sky Community.

    Liked by 1 person

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