Comet Halley with Joshua Tree on Horizon

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March 22, 1986, approximately 3:00 a.m.

Joshua Tree National Monument, California.

On its 1986 appearance, this most famous of comets made a relatively unspectacular showing. And, as you can see, technically this photo leaves a great deal to be desired. The crescent moon which illuminated the foreground washed out the sky and made the comet difficult to see, and the 1600-speed slide film available at the time was incredibly grainy.

Despite all that, I treasure my photographs and memories of Comet Halley. Driving all over Southern California chasing the short, faint Halley was a fun challenge -- my first organized attempt at comet observation and photography. The experience gave me invaluable practice for photographing the truly great comets which would come in the 1990's. In fact, several photos of Comet Hale-Bopp on my "Comets" page were taken at almost exactly this same location at Joshua Tree National Park 11 years later!

Camera: Canon AE-1 35mm SLR, on tripod.
Film: Fuji P1600 slide.
Lens: 50mm at f/1.8, 35 seconds.

Scanned using a Nikon Coolscan LS-10E 35mm film scanner.


Revised: April 23, 1999
Copyright © 1999 Joe Orman
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