Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

When you get to see a comet you can’t help but smile


Sometimes stuff just works out.

Last week I had an impromptu opportunity to go north to visit a friend who lives in what I call my “Happy Place,” along the shores of Lake Michigan. I haven’t been in a more than a year, but it’s still just as beautiful as I remember.

I’m rarely here in summer, this is the most people I’ve ever seen on the beach!

Since we’ve both been pretty careful to stay away from crowds of people we felt comfortable being in each other’s company, though we spent almost 100% of the time outside. Trust me, that is not a sacrifice.

I left lower Michigan under blue skies and temperatures in the 80s. Five hours later I pulled into her driveway and it was 62 and raining. Suddenly the shorts and Tshirt I wore seemed pretty skimpy.

Stormy weather greeted me upon arrival.

Still, it was beautiful.

I was up there to introduce my friend to another friend of mine who has just moved into the community. I think they have several things in common and might enjoy each other’s company. And just by coincidence I’d be on the shores of Lake Michigan, looking northwest, where there happened to be a comet that I might be able to photograph. If the sky cooperated, and if I could figure out those pesky camera settings.

The first night there wasn’t much of a sunset. But it was pretty.

Though the rain stopped that first afternoon, the sun set behind a bank of clouds. Definitely no comet watching that night.

I wasn’t too worried, I had two more nights, and the forecast said we’d have beautiful, clear weather. So I slept my first night in my friend’s bunkhouse, a screened building with a comfortable bed from which I could hear the waves lapping at the shore and the birds singing in the morning. And during the night I could check the sky without even getting out of bed.

The perfect guest house.

It was marvelous.

The next morning dawned clear and beautiful.

The weather looked promising early in the day.

We went for a walk on the beach, enjoying blue skies and sparkling water.

Just a touch of cloud out there on the horizon. Maybe tonight will be comet night!

I got to put my feet in my lake, and that always makes me smile. And of course I picked up a few stones, it’s impossible not to. In fact I think it’s a scientific fact that you must pick up stones while walking this beach.

Modern, abstract art shimmers in the clear water of Lake Michigan.

As evening approached we noticed a bank of clouds hanging low along the horizon. But we hopefully set up down on the beach, me with my camera, my friend with her telescope.

That bank of clouds might be a problem.

And we waited. The sun set. It was pretty. But the clouds obscured the comet, so we concentrated on watching a freighter go by.

I did a longish shutter speed just to make the lights blur.

And then I went to bed in my wonderful bunkhouse and listened as the wind picked up and the waves crashed. I added extra blankets and had a wonderful sleep.

The next morning, my last full day at my lake, the moon came up in the pink sky and I hoped that tonight we’d get a chance to see that comet.

The moon showed up and danced between the clouds.

Meanwhile I took some pictures in her native plant garden…

Native lilies opened the next day.

…and then we hiked through one of the county’s conservancy properties where we feasted on wild red raspberries and enjoyed the dappled sun sliding through tall trees.

Great Spangled Fritillaries.

We saw another beautiful sunset that night. But even by 11 we couldn’t see the comet, so everyone went to bed.

A cat sculpture stretches, getting ready for sleep.

I was determined to get up in an hour when it would be darker to do some star photography, even if the comet never showed up.

At midnight I picked up my camera and tripod and began to edge down the 40+ steps to the beach. I glanced to the north and there it was! A brilliant white triangle that obviously wasn’t your typical star.

The lights on the water is a boat sitting out there, probably also watching the comet. And if you look carefully you can see the second tail, a blue streak to the left of the white tail and going straight up.

I ran back in the house and got my friend and we stood there on the stairs just watching it. Amazing.

I went down to the beach and set up the camera. It wasn’t that easy to find the comet through the viewfinder, but lucky for me there was a boat out there, just under the comet and I could see it’s lights in the camera’s screen. So I pointed at the boat and shot while hoping I got the comet in the frame.

Luckily I did.

As the comet was fading I captured either a shooting star, or more likely, the space station sliding across the sky.

I shot for maybe an hour, sometimes straight up into the stars, sometimes toward the comet, sometimes including the big dipper. I didn’t have a wide angle lens to capture the big dipper in the same shot as the comet, but I was having fun anyway.

Eventually the comet faded and I remembered that the milky way would probably be to the south, directly behind me. I turned around and laughed out loud.

The milky way was waiting patiently for me to notice it.

Yep. I have to say it was an amazing night. In fact I stayed up all night, taking pictures, and then laying in bed looking at them in the camera. I think I looked at all of them at least a couple times, smiling in the dark.

By the time I was finished analyzing the images (which was stupid because they don’t look that great on the back of the camera) birds were beginning to sing. And then I saw the biggest star I’ve ever seen come up to the east.

Venus welcomes me to a new day.

Turns out it is Venus, and of course I had to set up in the front yard and try to capture that. And then the sky turned pink, even out over the lake and of course I had to run back down the 40+ steps to the beach.

Another amazing morning on my lake.

And when I finally made my way back up to the house, intent on getting a couple hours of sleep, I noticed the cat sitting in the window watching my antics.

What in the world are you doing out there lady?

And of course I had to capture that too. Not a lot of sleep, but one of the most fun nights I’ve had in a very long time. Thank you to my northern friend for sharing her amazing home, though I wasn’t inside it very much.

Can’t beat this view.

Sitting on the deck and just watching the lake is more then enough, much less a hike in the woods and a comet photoshoot…with the milky way thrown in.

And on the way home I got a couple barns to boot.

Barn #1

I’m smiling now just thinking about it.

Barn #2

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

60 thoughts on “When you get to see a comet you can’t help but smile

  1. Awesome images Dawn! Love the night sky with the comet and the milky way. It looks like it was a great trip to Lake Michigan. No wonder you are smiling…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a marvellous trip! I really enjoyed your photos, especially the ones of the comet. I think night photography is extremely challenging. Beautiful, beautiful photos! That guest house looks just perfect. I want one of those 🙂


  3. Oh my gosh Dawn, that is fantastic! What a night! Absolutely beautiful, all of them but I think my favorite is the Milky Way. Were you in the UP?


  4. Sounds like a great time, even if the night sky had to wait until the last night. Some great photos! I may try to get comet photos in the next couple of nights, if possible. I missed my chance earlier in the week because I was busy and tired. I hope you have a great weekend!


  5. WOW!! What a wonderful get away to Lake Michigan! Beautiful photos and you had me in suspense through your post, did she see the comet as I’m reading thinking in my mind – and YES! There it was in all its splendor! Night photography is difficult but you did a great job, and that milky way too. We don’t get to see the sky like that where I live, what a WONDERFUL post!! ❤️


  6. ALL your shots are phenomenal, Dawn! Wow! Thank you!!!


  7. Dawn–these are beautiful! The freighter photo is stunning to me because it looks like it is floating. Oh, and the kitty watching you from the window. How can you not love that? I need to experiment more with night photography with my camera–you are giving me the push I need.


    • I thought the freighter looked like it was floating (well, technically it IS floating, come to think of it) too! Floating in the cloud, right?! Wish we lived closer, we could go out and do a little night sky photography together. The hardest thing for me is finding a place I feel safe being out in the dark alone.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Amazing photos, all of them. What a special treat that all must have been.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Beautiful photos. I like the storm coming in over Lake Michigan.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A lot to smile about. Gorgeous photos, especially the one of the Milky Way. And of course the comet. Congratulations on your perseverance.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh, what a post! I surely was smiling as I read it. A beautiful, beautiful place. No wonder you love it so. And then to get great photos of that comet…Yay! Worth missing a night’s sleep, that’s for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What a fabulous trip — and thank you for sharing it with us! How I love these photos; just goes to show how much in nature there is to smile about! I’m glad you captured the comet … and the Milky Way … and those views over your lake … and your tiny guest house. What’s the stuff in that abstract art photo? I made it bigger, but I still can’t tell.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow wow WOW! What a wonderful trip. And that comet! We have not been able to see it (clouds, clouds and more clouds). Thank you for allowing me to see it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • The weather guy here this morning said tonight would be a good night for viewing, so I hope you get to see it too! The settings that worked for me was ISO 1000 (though other people used 800 or less), F4.0 (because that’s as low as my lens would go). 30 second shutter speed. Just in case you want to give it a photographic go. I’d like to try again in a different location, but I don’t know a place that lets me see the horizon around here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much for letting me know your settings. We still have not seen it. There is too much light here. I’m so glad I got to see it through your eyes/lens.


  14. Cool beans! What a fun experience. Your photos are so clear. I wanted to see the comet but just when it showed up our weather turned cloudy and wet. No comet for me.


    • There’s still time. It’s supposed to be visible till the middle of August…though it will go higher and higher in the sky and become harder to see. Tonight it’s supposed to be clear here…maybe where you are too!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wish, but not tonight. Thunderstorms are predicted. However, I didn’t realize the comet was visible beyond this week, so there’s hope. And time for the weather to cooperate with me.


  15. Now I am smiling too. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. You got some great shots! I’ve looked but haven’t seen the comet. Of course, I don’t have a good view of the horizon and there’s too much light pollution in town and we’ve had a lot of clouds. The milky way, I had so hoped to see that on my trip west.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Amazing trip altogether! Congratulations on getting so many fabulous shots–including the comet. Your photography has been just great. I am glad you were able to have fun even in this time of Covid.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. The next morning dawned clear and beautiful on Dawn

    Liked by 1 person

  19. That was an incredible night, Dawn. I greatly admire your perseverance. It definitely paid off. Outstanding images!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Wow, Dawn, what a night you had! All your pics are fab and huge congrats on your once-in-a-lifetime comet shots! You’re officially an astrophotographer!
    In Northern California we caught a glimpse of the comet at 10pm last Sunday with luck and help from friends. Failing to see it in the early a.m hours, I all but gave up until we spent the weekend at our delta campground. A friend said the comet can be seen around 10pm just below the big dipper. At 10, I started looking for it and saw the vague smudge as described by our local weatherman. I didn’t bring my camera, but my friend let me look through her binoculars. I was so excited to see it! As I was attempting to show another friend with our naked eyes, I told him to follow my finger and the random light (thinking it was a jet) that was intersecting the comet’s path. My friend’s husband managed to capture some photos (yours are way better) but none of us knew it was the international space station that crossed its path. I found this out the next day from my daughter the aerospace engineer! What cosmic event!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Wow you got some great photos! What a wonderful get away!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Dawn, I am so happy (for you and for me) that you took so many spectacular photos of the party in the sky above and around your lake. You captured so many miracles! And if these photos make me feel as though I was there, I can’t imagine how beautiful and breathtaking it was in person! It brought me back to my first stargaze and subsequent love of planetariums. But this beats all of that. I can just hear the waves lapping the shore and feel the luxury of falling asleep to that. Thanks so much for sharing.
    Keep smiling!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. You took some really fantastic photos, Dawn! And how cool that you caught the comet! Thanks for sharing them. I love that area and haven’t been there in a while. I did drive to the UP and back this week, though. It’s tough for me to resist going back in the summer. And it was lovely to wake up to 57 degrees.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Pingback: The Weekly Smile Recap for7/20 – 7/27/2020 | Trent's World (the Blog)

  25. Beautiful pics looks like a great get away LOVE those butterflies. I am so ready to go somewhere. I need to socialize Cricket so she can use to others besides just us. I have not even been to the parks.


    • I hope you get to go somewhere soon! I don’t know though, the numbers for the virus don’t seem to be going down. I went camping for 3 days this week and didn’t actually speak to anyone except the ranger checking me in. Was nice in a way, but sort of sad too.


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