Chasing Neowise 2020

All my life, I’ve been amazed by the night sky. It is not an unusual thing to see me looking up, whether day or night.

I have some wonderful and very special memories about loading the van up with sleeping bags and rousing my children at two in the morning to drive out past Canada Olympic Park, in order to watch meteorite showers.

My son and I were truly blessed one night, when we were both much younger, to share the Northern lights from sleeping bags parked on our own front yard. The green dancing lights entertained us for hours.

These are moments I will never forget.

I started my hunt for Neowise comet at the dawn, driving the entire length of Deerfoot Trail at 4:30 in the morning, only to find Neowise could be seen best at around 4. Then began the night time hunt, for several evenings, from the ridge above the Bow River. It is kind of spooky walking pathways between midnight and three in the morning, all on your own. Surprisingly enough, I met up with a young man at my perch on the first evening. There were other nights just like that one, where I was being chewed up by mosquitoes while standing on benches along the river pathway, searching the sky.

When, first, I saw Neowise, I bumped into a lovely couple in the pitch black. They were wrapped in blankets, hot chocolate in hand, sitting on lawn chairs, and whispering in quiet voices. Honestly, for a moment, I was spooked. It was that couple that oriented me to the location of our comet in the heavens. From that moment, I knew what I would be looking for on following nights. Armed only with a cell phone, this is my first shot of the comet.

The next night, I went hard core…out to Okotoks Erratic at 12:30 in the morning!

The wonderful thing about that experience was that there were maybe six other photographers out and about at the location. My quick observations came from a place of NO knowledge of photography, but all sorts of things seemed to be going on. I just started taking pictures with my cell phone because there she was in all of her glory! A man was standing in the foreground, upon a huge boulder, but I thought that this gave the images more interest. In the end, a person really should go on line and see some of the wondrous photographs taken by members of the Aurora Chaser’s group. They are unbelievable!

I met wonderful and generous hearts, Daniel and Arleney and their three children in the darkness. Daniel (I didn’t know his name at the time) was the man captured in silhouette in my photographs, above.

In an act of total abandon and without thinking much about it, I asked the couple if they would snap a photo of me looking at the comet. I really think that was a tad pushy, but kindly enough, they agreed. Little did I realize at the time the knowledge and experience these two have with nighttime photography. They are TRUE aurora chasers! Here is the result. Photographer: Daniel Sanchez Salazar I will be forever grateful to Daniel for this capture of Neowise Comet.

To follow this event, I knew that I wanted my adult children, if possible, to see the comet. My first born and her husband, I realize, have their little son, bedtime and work days to think about. The other two agreed, though, that on the next night (without clouds) they would be ready to join me in the wee hours of morning. While there was a thin veil of clouds in the sky, we still managed to captured the softest presence of the comet.

2020 has been the strangest of years, hasn’t it? It is important that as often as possible, we look for the magic. We are writing our collective histories. I am so grateful that so many professional photographers and darned good hobbyists have captured this comet in all of her glory.

Next up…watch for meteorite showers and fire balls!

Chasing the Moon

Since losing Mom on the thirty first of May, I have thought about writing again.  On days since, the ‘doings’ of each day seem slower…the taking of steps…the opening up the chest to breath.  Every single thing looks different because she is no longer here, but more importantly, every thing looks different because she was here.  Katherine Mary, Mom, our beautiful Kay, impacted everything.

Disheartened and overflowing with grief, Dad and I watch Storage Wars and the play offs and news from home (beautiful Alberta and the devastation of so much property and the heart ache of so many displaced families).  We sometimes fight for a turn at the sink.  We drive to Napanee for eggs benedict.  We try to get through hymns at church, without crying.

A short while ago, I stepped out onto Bridge Street in the dark of night.  The air, cooling, still felt heavy with humidity.  The only sound was that of my own foot steps, Max brushing up against my legs as we walked together under large silhouettes of trees.  We walked east for quite some time…then south…no moon.  I knew it was there.  And the stars were out.  The clouds of the day time had pulled back just in time for me to witness the SUPER moon, an event shared on a variety of sites the past few days.  But where was this moon?

We back-tracked to our starting place and then began in the opposite direction…west…then north…nothing…so, I decided to stand still.  Looking up again, I doubted myself.  I began to dismiss the possibility of this beautiful moon appearing at all.  Wrong date registered in my mind?  I stood still…doubting…but present.  I was suddenly aware of the white wooden fence I was leaning against.  I liked the air…a light scent of flowers mingled with green.  Looking up, I saw a lighter shade of dark…and following that, suddenly noticed the brilliant white shapes almost shimmering behind the rustling leaves of a giant maple.   We walked slowly in that direction where eventually, we came upon an opening between two grand trees and there it was…the most perfect moon I have ever witnessed, resting in the converging arms of the two giants.  I stood there for some time, filled with more peace than I have felt in weeks.

I don’t always see that moon in the night sky, but it is there.   When the beautiful river becomes a raging angry beast and the rain pours down, I can not see the sun…but it is there.  That song that I wished to share with my mother this morning, my mother WAS that song.