Comet PanSTARRS and False Advertising

I’m not a big fan of traditional advertising techniques, especially those that insult my intelligence, or lack thereof. Show me a baby that Warren Buffet turns to for investment advice, or try to play on the fact that I’m an ignorant redneck in order to get me to drink your watery excuse for a beer, and you can be sure that I will not purchase your product. Another thing I don’t like is teaser ads. Don’t show me 0.15 seconds of actual footage of your car and then spend the other 29.85 seconds running your mouth. SHOW ME THE CAR!

Comet PanSTARRS

Comet PanSTARRS and crescent moon. March 12, 2013. Nikon D800, Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 lens, f/11, 4 seconds, ISO 800.

That said, it should be no surprise to you that I’m not real happy with Comet PanSTARRS right now. Sure, we’ve known for a few weeks that it wasn’t going to be as bright as some had originally predicted, but I least expected to be able to see the dang thing. PanSTARRS must be taking a lesson from the agencies specializing in false advertising.

I went out this past Tuesday and Wednesday nights to photograph the comet. Had to hike a fair distance to the top of a mountain to get to an open vantage point that provided a clear view of the western horizon. (Most of the viewpoints accessible by road in my area are closed during winter.) I had a perfect view on both nights, but no comet. I left my binoculars in the truck because of the long hike, but I did scan the sky with my 300mm lens and still couldn’t see the dang thing.

Comet PanSTARRS

Comet PanSTARRS and crescent moon. March 13, 2013. Nikon D800, Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 lens, f/5.6, 2.5 seconds, ISO 1600.

On Tuesday, I assumed the reason I couldn’t see the comet was because it was even less bright than the recently revised estimates, and I figured this was yet another lost opportunity. But I did snap a few shots of the crescent moon against the twilight sky before coming home. And what did I discover upon my return? Why, a number of photos of Comet PanSTARRS by friends of mine. What? The comet wasn’t there! How did you photograph it?

But, of course, it was there. I don’t know how many people, if any, were able to see the comet with their unaided eye, but it obviously was just bright enough to show up in binoculars (like the ones I left in my truck) and in photographic exposures. And imagine my surprise when I checked out the crescent moon shots I snapped and discovered the comet in the frame! Dang, if I had known the blame thing was there I’d have kept on shooting until it sunk behind the mountain.

So I go back out on Wednesday determined not only to photograph the comet, but also to see it with my own eyes. Left the binocs in the truck again, thinking that since I knew the comet was bright enough to photograph, I would be able to find it on my LCD and therefore know the exact spot to look for it through the 300mm lens.

Thwarted again! I left with no view of the comet, but, again, did snap of few shots of the crescent moon in the clouds. I didn’t even bother to look at the photos on my computer until this afternoon. Imagine my surprise, yet again, at finding Comet PanSTARRS in a few of the photos. How did I miss it when I scanned the LCD preview at high magnification?

So I present to you two photos that I took of the crescent moon in a twilight sky. I wish I could tell you that I was photographing Comet PanSTARRS when I shot them, but that would not be accurate. On Wednesday, I did shoot with the thought in mind that I might be capturing the comet that I could not see, but after scanning the LCD, I abandoned most hope of actually recording it. So, the truth is, I did nothing and the comet simply fell in my lap. (At the small resolution of the blog photos, the comet is barely visible, especially in the horizontal photo, but it shows up well in the orginals.)

You know, I think I’m going to go have a Bud and find a baby to talk to about my retirement account.

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