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A Beginner's Guide To Photographing Comet Neowise – PetaPixel

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The comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) has arrived in the night sky here in the northern hemisphere, delighting skywatchers and photographers alike. With planning, patience, and clear skies, you can capture an unforgettable image of this celestial event.

In the early hours of Saturday, July 11th, I captured an image of Stonehenge with the comet glowing overhead and arguably the year’s most spectacular display of noctilucent clouds dancing behind. I posted the image online later that morning and went to bed for a few hours. I woke up to hundreds of comments, direct messages, and emails from admirers of the photo wanting to know where, when, and how to photograph the comet for themselves.

I hope this article will answer those questions for anyone else who hopes to capture this rare astronomical treat.

“Stonehenge, England” above was shot with a Nikon D850 and Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 at 102mm – f/2.8 – 2 sec – ISO 1250. 6 x frames stacked using Starry Landscape Stacker; slight crop

Where and When

NEOWISE appears in the N-NW evening sky. The ambient light in the sky after sunset can make it challenging to find at first, so here’s a tip for locating the comet with the naked eye: try defocusing your eyes and scanning the sky quickly, it helps you see the faint glow of the tail.

If it’s still too faint to see with the naked eye, you can try hunting for it using a fast lens. I took a wide-angle shot looking north using my Sigma 14mm f/1.8 and quickly located the comet’s tail 10-15 minutes before I found it easily visible using just my eyes.

Nobody knows for sure how long NEOWISE will be visible at night. In theory, the comet should be visible in the northwest evening sky later in July, but this is not guaranteed so shoot it while you can!

Equipment

As essential as the camera itself is a tripod sturdy enough to take the weight of your gear and hold it still for up to 30 seconds (depending on how wide you shoot). A lightweight or travel tripod is a good idea if you’re hiking to a spot, but it may not perform so well over long periods or if there’s a wind.

Shoot with a fast, prime lens if you can – this will work best as a wide aperture allows you to capture more light and a more detailed image.

The tail of the comet covers a larger area than it appears to the naked eye – you could be forgiven for believing you’d need a zoom lens. Actually, you can achieve pleasing results with wider angles too.

If you don’t have one already, a nifty fifty (a 50mm prime lens) tends to be an inexpensive option that provides a pleasing focal length to capture the comet with exposure times of up to 10 seconds.

Finally, consider a remote shutter, either wired or wireless cable. You can pick one of these up cheaply on eBay rather than use your camera manufacturer’s branded model. When you press your camera’s shutter release you introduce a little bit of motion which can interfere with your images. A remote shutter eliminates this. Alternatively, check if your camera has a built-in timer. For example, on my Nikon D850, I can safely shoot using the camera shutter release when I set my timer to 5 seconds.

Here’s an idea of how the comet will look at various focal lengths.

35mm

Stonehenge, England. Nikon D850, Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8, 35mm – f/2.8 – 10 sec – ISO 200. Single shot; no crop.

On a full-frame camera, you should be able to shoot for up to 14 seconds without any star trailing.

50mm

Tenby, Wales. Nikon D850, Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8, 50mm – f/2.8 – 6 sec – ISO 800. Single shot; no crop.

On a full-frame camera, you should be able to shoot for 10 seconds without any star trailing.

200mm

Dryslwyn Castle, Wales. Nikon D850, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8, 200mm – f/2.8 – 2 sec – ISO 1600. Single shot; cropped.

On a full-frame camera, you will only be able to shoot for 2 seconds before star trailing happens. This means you’d need a wide aperture and a high ISO for a well-exposed shot

Recommended Apps and Websites

Stellarium

Stellarium is a free, open-source planetarium for your computer, there’s also a web version. You can input your location and Stellarium can show you how the sky will look at any time. Click on NEOWISE and Stellarium will show you the azimuth (direction) and altitude for any given time.

Clear Outside

Clear Outside is a weather app for astronomers which gives a detailed breakdown of cloud cover. It’s free to use online or as an iOS and Android app. Ideally, you want totally clear skies, but remember the comet can still be seen through breaks in clouds — particularly wispy, high-level clouds.

The Photographer’s Ephemeris

The Photographer’s Ephemeris is an extraordinary planning tool available as a paid iOS and Android app, and free to use on the web – registration is required. Using this tool you can plot your viewing location, an object you want to shoot, and TPE will tell you the direction and altitude. Combine this with Stellarium to work out where NEOWISE is in the sky, and how this will work with the object you want to shoot.

PhotoHound

Finally, PhotoHound is a handy tool for finding notable photo locations around the world – and I’m not just saying this because I happen to be one of its co-founders! The web version is free to use – registration is required. Look for places of interest and see if these can be combined with NEOWISE to create a compelling image. (And when you do, you’re welcome to add it to the PhotoHound map.)

Composition Ideas

Now you’ve located NEOWISE in the sky you need to decide how to shoot it. You could isolate the comet against the night sky, or look for an interesting foreground interest. Here are some ideas for you to try out.

Capture the comet and the landscape

Llanllwni, Wales. Nikon D850, Sigma 14mm f/1.8, 14mm – f/1.8 – 20 sec – ISO 800. Single shot; no crop.

This is the easiest way to shoot it, with a wider lens and illustrating a beautiful starlit landscape.

Consider photographing from higher ground to give you a pleasing perspective of the skies above and the land below in a single frame. This also gives you the advantage of avoiding low-level fog and mist that can form on lower ground overnight.

Photograph the comet with an object or landmark

Glastonbury Tor, England. Nikon D850, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8, 200mm – f/2.8 – 2 sec – ISO 1600. 9 x frames stacked using Starry Landscape Stacker; cropped.

Find a notable landmark, building, or other object and photograph it next to the comet! You’ll need a combination of the apps above to find a suitable angle and time, but when these work in your favor you’ll produce a crowd-pleasing image for sure!

Isolate the comet

Nikon D850, Sigma 150-600mm, 300mm – f/5 – 1 sec – ISO 2000. 9 x frames stacked using Starry Landscape Stacker; cropped.

This is the trickiest to achieve as you’ll need a good zoom, and the longer your focal length, the shorter your exposure must be to avoid star trailing.

If you want to create longer exposures than this, you’ll need to use a star tracker. This is quite an advanced technique, well beyond the realm of this beginner’s guide! An easier alternative is to capture multiple short exposures at a high ISO, and stack these frames using software like Sequator or Starry Landscape Stacker to reduce noise.

The 500 Rule

If you’re not sure how long to expose for, you need to check something called the 500 Rule which is used to calculate the longest exposure time you can achieve before the stars become blurry.

The formula is as follows:

500 ÷ (Crop factor x Focal length) = Shutter speed

That can be a bit difficult to get your head around when you’re shooting the stars at 2 in the morning, so here’s a table featuring common focal lengths.

I hope this article helps you capture this incredible display in the coming days, capturing a memento of this historic occasion for years to come. Astrophotography takes patience and technical skill, but the results are worth the effort. I love seeing photos of NEOWISE as well as capturing it for myself – you’re welcome to tag me on social media to come and see your work.


About the author: Mathew Browne is a photographer from south Wales and the co-founder of PhotoHound, an online community for photographers to share information on the world’s best photo locations. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Browne’s work on his website, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and 500px. This article was also published here.

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Province Announces Windsor Essex Is Moving To Red 'Control' Status – windsoriteDOTca News

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Ontario Ministry of Health graphic

The province of Ontario announced Friday that Windsor Essex will be moving to Red, or “Control” status under the province’s COVID-19 response framework.

The changes will come into effect on Monday, November 30th 12:01am.

“The health and safety of all Ontarians is and will always be our top priority, that’s why we are following the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts and making this adjustment today,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Over the last week we have seen a shift in the trends of key public health indicators in regions across the province, and by moving [regions to new levels] in the framework, we can ensure that the necessary targeted measures are in place to stop the spread of the virus and allow us to keep our schools and businesses open.”

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Windsor-Essex joins four other regions moving to different levels under the framework. Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is moving to Orange-Restrict, and Hastings Prince Edward Public Health, Lambton Public Health, and Northwestern Health Unit are moving to Yellow-Protect.

The Red status is one status away from the province’s Lockdown status.

Red ‘Control’ status means the following, according to the province:

Changes from Orange – Restrict to Red – Control are marked in red.

Organized public events, social gatherings and religious services, rites and ceremonies

  • Limits for all organized public events and social gatherings:
    • 5 people indoors
    • 25 people outdoors
  • Limits for religious services rites or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services (apply regardless of the venue where held):
    • 30% capacity of the room indoors
    • 100 people outdoors

Restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments

  • Maximum number of patrons permitted to be seated indoors is 10
  • Outdoor dining, take out, drive through, and delivery permitted, including alcohol
  • Require patrons to be seated; 2 metre minimum or impermeable barrier required between tables
  • Limit of 4 people may be seated together
  • Dancing, singing and the live performance of music is prohibited
  • Require contact information for all seated patrons
  • No buffet style service
  • Line-ups and patrons congregating outside venues managed by venue; 2 metres distance and face covering required
  • Face coverings required except when eating or drinking only
  • Personal protective equipment, including eye protection required when is a worker must come within 2 metres of another person who is not wearing a face covering
  • Establishments must be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • No consumption of liquor permitted between 10 p.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • Night clubs and strip clubs only permitted to operate as restaurant or bar
  • A safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Sports and recreational fitness facilities

  • Gyms and fitness studios permitted to be open with maximum of:
    • 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors in classes; and
    • 10 people indoors in areas with weights or exercise equipment
  • No spectators permitted (exemption for parent and guardian supervision of children)
  • Increase spacing between patrons to 3 metres for areas of a sport or recreational facility where there are weights or exercise equipment and in exercise and fitness classes
  • Team sports must not be practiced or played except for training (no games or scrimmage)
  • Activities that are likely to result in individuals coming within 2 metres of each other are not permitted; no contact permitted for team or individual sports, with an exemption for high performance, including parasport, athletes.
  • Patrons may only be in the facility for 90 minutes except if engaging in a sport
  • Limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible; measures to prevent shouting by both instructors and members of the public
  • Face coverings required except when exercising
  • Require contact information for all members of the public that enter the facility
  • Require reservation for entry; one reservation for teams
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • A safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Meeting and event spaces

  • Maximum of 10 people per facility indoors or 25 outdoors
  • Booking multiple rooms for the same event not permitted
  • Establishments must be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • No consumption of liquor permitted between 10 p.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Require contact information for all seated patrons
  • Limit of 4 people may be seated together
  • Limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • A safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Retail

  • Fitting rooms must be limited to non-adjacent stalls
  • Line-ups and patrons congregating outside venues managed by venue; 2 metre distance required inside and outside; face covering also required while in line
  • Limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • For malls:
    • Maximum number of patrons permitted to be seated indoors in mall food court is 10
    • A safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Personal care services

  • Oxygen bars, steam rooms, saunas, bath houses and other adult venues, closed
  • Sensory deprivation pods closed (some exceptions)
  • Services requiring removal of face coverings prohibited
  • Require contact information from all patrons
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • A safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments

  • Maximum of 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors
  • Table games are prohibited
  • Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • No consumption of liquor permitted between 10 p.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Require contact information from all patrons
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • A safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Cinemas

  • Closed, except for:
    • drive-in cinemas
    • rehearsal or performing a recorded or broadcasted event, with restrictions:
      • Performers and employees must maintain 2 metre physical distance except for purposes of the performance
      • Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any other performers by plexiglass or other impermeable barrier
  • A safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Performing arts facilities

  • Closed to spectators
  • Rehearsal or performing a recorded or broadcasted event permitted
    • Performers and employees must maintain 2 metre physical distance except for purposes of the performance
    • Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any other performers by plexiglass or other impermeable barrier
  • Drive-in performances permitted
  • A safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

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Waterloo Region to remain in red (control) zone – KitchenerToday.com

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Waterloo Region will continue to stay in the red (control) zone of the province’s response framework, at least for now.

Just one new region will be moving into red on Monday, and that’s Windsor-Essex.

Waterloo Region was placed into the red zone on Monday, November 23.

Earlier this week, the region’s medical officer of health also issued a Section 22 order when it comes to malls and retail stores.

It requires them to ensure capacity is managed and actively monitored, such that adequate physical distancing can be maintained.

That order came into effect on Friday morning.

The active COVID-19 caseload in Waterloo Region is 460, the highest it has ever been.

Below are the control measures for red:

Organized public events, social gatherings and religious services, rites and ceremonies

  • Limits for all organized public events and social gatherings:
    • 5 people indoors
    • 25 people outdoors
  • Limits for religious services rites or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services (apply regardless of the venue where held):
    • 30% capacity of the room indoors
    • 100 people outdoors

Restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments

  • Maximum number of patrons permitted to be seated indoors is 10
  • Outdoor dining, take out, drive through, and delivery permitted, including alcohol
  • Require patrons to be seated; 2 metre minimum or impermeable barrier required between tables
  • Limit of 4 people may be seated together
  • Outdoor dining, take out, drive through and delivery permitted
  • Dancing, singing and the live performance of music is prohibited
  • Require contact information for all seated patrons
  • No buffet style service
  • Line-ups and patrons congregating outside venues managed by venue; 2 metres distance and face covering required
  • Face coverings required except when eating or drinking only
  • Personal protective equipment, including eye protection required when a worker must come within 2 metres of another person who is not wearing a face covering
  • Establishments must be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • No consumption of liquor permitted between 10 p.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • Night clubs and strip clubs only permitted to operate as restaurant or bar
  • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Sports and recreational fitness facilities

  • Gyms and fitness studios permitted to be open with maximum of:
    • 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors in classes; and
    • 10 people indoors in areas with weights or exercise equipment
  • No spectators permitted (exemption for parent and guardian supervision of children)
  • Increase spacing between patrons to 3 metres for areas of a sport or recreational facility where there are weights or exercise equipment and in exercise and fitness classes
  • Team sports must not be practiced or played except for training (no games or scrimmage)
  • Activities that are likely to result in individuals coming within 2 metres of each other are not permitted; no contact permitted for team or individual sports, with an exemption for high performance, including parasport, athletes.
  • Patrons may only be in the facility for 90 minutes except if engaging in a sport
  • Limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible; measures to prevent shouting by both instructors and members of the public
  • Face coverings required except when exercising
  • Require contact information for all members of the public that enter the facility
  • Require reservation for entry; one reservation for teams
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Recreational facilities and community centres in Waterloo Region (update issued Friday) 

  • Indoor capacity of 10 program participants per room/space, provided physical distancing can be maintained.
  • Outdoor capacity of 25 program participants per space, provided physical distancing can be maintained.
  • Additional coaching and training staff are permitted, limited strictly to those officially rostered with the team/athletes as identified in their provincial association’s return to play protocols, provided physical distancing can be maintained.
  • No spectators permitted. Where previously allowed, one guardian per minor aged participant is permitted. Masks for guardians are mandatory, and physical distancing must be maintained.
  • Aquatics classes are limited to 10 participants per class. If physical distancing can be maintained and total pool capacity remains below 30%, more than one class may be in the pool at a time.
  • Mandatory active screening, contact information and attendance for all patrons.
  • Drop-in recreation programs (pre-registration is required) have a maximum capacity of 10 people. 
  • For all team sport, scrimmages and games are no longer permitted.
  • Teams must adjust their programming to training and skill development only, while meeting the required maximum capacity numbers.
  • No contact permitted for team or individual sports.
  • Community centre room rentals for church, funeral or wedding services are limited to 30% of room capacity.

Meeting and event spaces

  • Maximum of 10 people per facility indoors or 25 outdoors
  • Establishments must be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • No consumption of liquor permitted between 10 p.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Require contact information for all seated patrons
  • Limit of 4 people may be seated together
  • Limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Retail

  • Fitting rooms must be limited to non-adjacent stalls
  • Line-ups and patrons congregating outside venues managed by venue; 2 metre distance required inside and outside; face covering also required while in line
  • Limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • For malls:
    • Maximum number of patrons permitted to be seated indoors in mall food court is 10
    • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Personal care services

  • Oxygen bars, steam rooms, saunas, bath houses and other adult venues, closed
  • Sensory deprivation pods closed (some exceptions)
  • Require contact information from all patrons
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments

  • Maximum of 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors
  • Table games are prohibited
  • Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • No consumption of liquor permitted between 10 p.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Require contact information from all patrons
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Cinemas

  • Closed, except for:
    • drive-in cinemas
    • rehearsal or performing a recorded or broadcasted event, with restrictions:
      • Performers and employees must maintain 2 metre physical distance except for purposes of the performance
      • Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any other performers by plexiglass or other impermeable barrier
  • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Performing arts facilities

  • Closed to spectators
  • Rehearsal or performing a recorded or broadcasted event permitted
    • Performers and employees must maintain 2 metre physical distance except for purposes of the performance
    • Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any other performers by plexiglass or other impermeable barrier
  • Drive-in performances permitted
  • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

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Earth is 2000 light years closer to supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy than we thought – CTV News

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A new map of the Milky Way by Japanese space experts has put Earth 2,000 light years closer to the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy.

This map has suggested that the center of the Milky Way, and the black hole which sits there, is located 25,800 light-years from Earth. This is closer than the official value of 27,700 light-years adopted by the International Astronomical Union in 1985, the National Observatory of Japan said.

What’s more, according to the map, our solar system is traveling at 227 kilometers per second as it orbits around the galactic center — this is faster than the official value of 220 kilometers per second, the release added.

These updated values are a result of more than 15 years of observations by the Japanese radio astronomy project VERA, according to an announcement released Thursday from the National Observatory of Japan. VERA is short for VLBI Exploration of Radio Astrometry and refers to the mission’s array of telescopes, which use Very Long Baseline Interferometry to explore the three-dimensional structure of the Milky Way.

Because the Earth is located inside the Milky Way, it’s difficult to step back and see what the galaxy looks like. To get around this, the project used astrometry, the accurate measurement of the position and motion of objects, to understand the overall structure of the Milky Way and Earth’s place in it.

The black hole is known as Sagittarius A* or Sgr A* and is 4.2 million times more massive than our sun. The supermassive hole and its enormous gravitational field governs the orbits of stars at the center of the Milky Way. Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez earned the 2020 Nobel prize for physics for its discovery. There are several types of black holes, and scientists believe the supermassive ones may be connected to the formation of galaxies, as they often exist at the center of the massive star systems — but it’s still not clear exactly how, or which form first.

MORE PRECISE APPROACH

In August, VERA published its first catalog, containing data for 99 celestial objects. Based on this catalog and recent observations by other groups, astronomers constructed a position and velocity map. From this map, the scientists were able to calculate the center of the galaxy, the point that everything revolves around.

VERA combines data from four radio telescopes across Japan. The observatory said that, when combined, the telescopes were able to achieve a resolution that in theory would allow the astronomers to spot a United States penny placed on the surface of the Moon.

To be clear, the changes don’t mean Earth is plunging toward the black hole, the observatory said. Rather, the map more accurately identifies where the solar system has been all along.

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