Comet Neowise Road Trip - 10 Locations in 10 Days

Like Jack London's "Call of the Wild" when the news hit that Comet Neowise was going to be the brightest comet in 23 years, I packed my bags and headed for the hills. Living in Los Angeles area I had to get out to the dark skies of America's great national parks to have scenic foregrounds for my shots so my first stop was nearby Joshua Tree national park on July 10th for a successful shoot. It was a hot hot hot 108 degrees F. Next day I jumped over into the hot frying pan area of Death Valley where it was 117 degrees for a shoot of the 20 Mule Wagons. Too hot for comfort, I decided the Utah high country of Bryce Canyon at 7000 feet combined with ultra scenic red rocks was more to my liking. Shot the Bryce image with 85mm. Then it was Cedar Breaks, and Brian Head at 11,000 feet and finally the beautiful Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada to end my 6 consecutive nights of comet shooting with fortunately God enabled clear skies.

After waiting 4 days on the home front for the comet to come into evening skies, I took off again under Monsoon Rainy season skies and headed to the Ancient Bristlecone Tree forest in California near Bishop. I was most fortunate for the sky to clear upon my arrival and more fortunate to find this solo 4000 year old tree way up a rocky slope which I shot with a 135mm. The next day I headed for Mammoth Mt at 8000 feet, then Mono Lake both in California and finally Lake Tahoe in Nevada’s high country to conclude a 2500 mile road trip over 10 days.

It was truly amazing for the sky to clear each of the last four nights with the days filled with clouds to conclude 10 successful shoots over as many days. My reward for these efforts: 1. Knowing I can still do this at 71, 2. Great pics for my web site 3. One of my images being chosen for the 2020 TIME Magazine Annual edition coming out December 4. I had received that honor 3x before for TIME Pic of Year for Hale-Bopp in 1997, then in 2003 getting in both TIME & LIFE Y/E editions for the 58,000 year close approach of Mars event.

Wally Pacholka
Published in Astrophotography Magazine Nov 2020

  Comet Neowise over Thors Hammer - Temple of Osiris  Comet Neowise rising over Cedar Breaks National Monument   Comet Neowise rising over Ancient Bristelcone Tree



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