Saturday, December 4, 2021

Comet Leonard - Dec 4 2021 + other recent astronomy observations

Astronomy has caught my interest - and of course, after seeing Comet Neowise in 2020 [Link] --- I make an effort to witness and photograph most astronomy events.

If one does a youtube search for Comet Leonard - you can learn about where to look for it and when you can see it.  It will be visible between this weekend and Mid-December. 

This morning, I had set my alarm at 4am to check if it would be cloudless - and I was happy to see the star "arctures" from constellates Bootes over the eastern horizon. This comet was not at the brightness factor needed to make it a naked-eye visible comet. So, using my stelllarium android app, and "star-hopping" with my camera - I was finally able to find this fleeting comet.  One of the coolest observations I made upon seeing this in my cameras image preview screen was that it had a greenish tinge to it. 

Asrophotography notes:  I set my camera to 3200 ISO and took several shots at +1-->+3 exposure, then repeated the process at ISO 6400. My Canon 7D is getting old - its 12 years old I think, and the shutter speed at the above settings was 2seconds to 8 seconds. With those longer exposures, you get a trailing effect with the starts from the rotation of the earth. Ideally, it would be nice to mount my camera on a star tracking device, which aligns with the north star, polaris, then rotates slowly to counter-act the rotation of the earth, allowing for long exposures without the trailing star effect. Many professional photos of this comet include star tracking long exposures, and stacked image processing which combines the data obtained from many photographs.  

Ultra-Fast Comet!

"An amazing feature of this celestial visitor is that it’s an ultrafast comet. It’s traveling at 158,084 miles per hour (254,412 km/h or 70.67 km/second) relative to Earth." (

Time cycle for its Orbit

~80,000 years. We will probably not be alive in 80,000 years, so --- this is your only chance to see this one. 

Wide Angle View

This photo is from Dec 7th:

Here are some orbit screenshots and visualizations from this youtube video

I've included a few more photos of Jupiter, Saturn, Venus (crescent ) and Mercury.

Good astronomizing!


Monday, November 1, 2021

Backyard Towhee, Mercury at Sunrise + Nov 7th Comet???


On Halloween, I had been in my back yard and I heard an Eastern Towhee nearby. I went for a walk along the hedgerow - which was not noteworthy, but eventually the Towhee stopped by and perched for a while. Another sparrow species in October!

On the previous weekend, I had photographed a few more Orange crowned Warblers, as well as a nice Lincoln's Sparrow with a Song Sparrow. 

It has been cloudy and rainy for the last two weeks, so I was amazed to see a clear sky this morning as I prepared for work. I had checked my "Stellarium App" and noted that Mercury was just above the sunset. Its took a moment or two, but yes, It was slighly visible with binoculars. My cell phone camera was able to pick it up as well. I then took a few photos with my telephoto lens. A neat thing about Mercury is that since it closely orbits the sun, you can only observe it right before sunset or right before sunrise and certain times of the year. Venus has that property as well, but its much brighter to see and is present for longer times at sunrise and sunset. 

This was another stunning sunrise recently:

Here are some closeups of Mercury:

Good Birding and Good Astronomizing!


PS: TWO Comets will be visible before the end of the year:

1-Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (Brightest on Nov 7th, Closest on Nov 11th)

2-Comet Leonard ("The Christmas Comet") - More details in December.

For Comet 67P/CG --- It will be brightest on Nov7th, and it will be close to "Pollux" of constellation Gemini. Look for the "twins" above the Eastern Horizon at around midnight on Nov 7th with binoculars, scopes etc. I will be trying to use astrophotography skills to capture it myself. Hoping for clear skies that night. 

Consider viewing this video below for more Nov 2021 astronomy highlights. 

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Backyard Orange Crowned Warblers, Fox Sparrows, Phoebe Oct 23rd Birding

I was sitting in my kitchen at around 3:30PM today, and noticed a little bird foraging between my back fence and some goldenrod which had gone to seed. I glassed the bird with my binoculars and was amazed... I'm quite certain I saw Orange Crowned Warbler!!! After 20 minutes went by, I had to go for a walk behind my house... there is a weedy hedgerow that is quite birdy! [Editor's Note: The date that is watermarked at the bottom of these images is wrong. These are taken on Oct 23rd, 2021]

Walking behind my house was a nice treat. I had seen a few Hermit Thrushes (and Wood Thrush?) Downy Woodpeckeres, Eastern Phoebe,  Ruby Crowned Kinglet, and Orange Crowned Kinglets. I saw some Song Sparrows, White throated, White Crowned, Dark eyed Juncos, a Swamp Sparrow and a FOX SPARROW! I think I might even had a Savannah Sparrow. 

I feel that I had seen 4-6 different Orange crowned Warblers back there. Between those and a Fox Sparrow - I am just blown away at the diversity of birds behind my house. I should be keeping a list, or at least posting to E-bird and perhaps listing that way.  

Anyhow - with Gas being at 1.50/L and an expired Pelee Pass - I've been content birding at South Cameron Woodlot. 

BONUS Photos-


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