Comet Neowise and Venus

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"The Imperative of Night" narrative
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Welcome to!

offering local "hands-on" observing
(visual and imaging) sessions and instruction
viewing and imaging from Rabbit Valley Observatory
a dark sky location on the mesa just west of Taos, NM

Update -- July 4, 2020

I have returned from a (rather annual) San Juan River float trip; seven days and six nights through the remote Goosenecks in southwestern Utah -- immersed deep in a canyon adjacent to Monument Valley. Astronomical reports include (often) waking up in the middle of the night to a magnificent, star and Milky Way-studded dark night sky. (I sleep under the stars as long as the weather is OK. Nights were very warm.) One night I awoke and remarkably viewed a brighter-than-first-magnitude object "streak" (more like "creep") slowly across the entire sky! Originally I thought it to be a very amazing meteor (albeit too slow and too long, I felt), but, after returning I learned that it was very likely an asteroid, per the below-linked article.

The movie shown on the news clip seemed to reveal an object much like what I saw, plus it was the correct date.

An event like this just proves once again that the simple act of sleeping out under a dark sky can result in some momentous sightings!


Humor update -- May 1, 2020

There's a community very near where I once lived in Colorado, west of Denver in the foothills. They offer humor (generally puns) on their billboard, and recently there was one of an astronomical theme.

humor Orion's belt


Observing schedule for Spring 2020

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, no visitation to Rabbit Valley observatory is possible for now. But, as astrophotography is the ultimate "social-distancing" activity, I'll be configuring cameras and equipment and taking some photos, I'm sure. I hope to catch the latest comet. You can too! Read about Comet Atlas here!

Update -- The Yellowstone class was great, including the intense white-knuckle driving experience out to the Lamar Buffalo Ranch under heavy, heavy snow and white-out conditions. With newly-acquired knowledge and photographs, I was able to finish and have developed a simple website to present my new wildlife photo/observational guide book entitled Yellowstone's Megafauna -- In the Wild. Click the text above to access and read the book. If you wish a signed hard-copy, e-mail me at

Observing schedule for early 2020

I will be visiting Yellowstone National Park in early to mid-February for a seminar "The Intelligence of Animals," by George Bumann, M.S. I have attended many Yellowstone Forever seminars over the years -- all are highly recommended! After that, the "warmer" spring observing session is upon us. Please e-mail me at to schedule a night under the stars!

Recent Rabbit Valley Observatory news -- early November 2019

High Country News has released the winners of their annual western night sky photo competition, and one of our photographs was a favorite! Thanks, HCN! Click on the link below and click on photograph #10!

"What shows up when the sun goes down?"

And certainly while visiting the link check out their great reader-supported journalism as well.

Observing Schedule -- Update -- late October 2019

After an activity-filled summer and early fall as noted below, Rabbit Valley Observatory is now back in full swing. Just a few days ago the delightful DiGiacomo/Kalishman family from just outside New York City visited and enjoyed dark skies, a view of the late summer Milky Way through Sagittarius and a wonderful visual/video observing session. See their video photographs of deep sky objects by clicking this text.

Summer/Fall 2019

As the summer of 2019 comes into full swing, I am compelled to add this scheduling feature to

Unfortunately, due to my personal non-astronomical schedule, I have found it necessary to decline several requests to book observing/imaging sessions. The reasons are three-fold:

1 -- This year, due to excellent winter precipitation and a slow-warming, cool spring, I have scheduled even more white-water float trips (my other passion, in additional to photography and astronomy!) than normal.

2 -- Typically (this year included, but to a lesser degree) western wildfires often foul the sky, and without some wind (always present in spring and fall, but not so much in the summer) this naturally-occurring air pollution sometimes obscures the otherwise crystal-clear dark skies of northern New Mexico.

3 -- In the summertime, it doesn't normally really get dark until almost 10 P.M., which often limits observing due to the lateness of the hour!

Concluding then, I'm sorry but I will generally NOT be available during the rest of July 2019 and much of August 2019 as well. In September I will be available after about the 20th of the month, as the first half will be spent floating the fabulous dark-sky-sporting Main Salmon River in remote central Idaho. If you schedule an evening after that time, we can still enjoy many of the spectacular summer constellations and deep-sky objects, and at an earlier hour!

Also, with the introduction of the Atik Infinity video camera, employing that remarkable device will allow for observing/imaging even during bright moonlit nights.


Please access's navigation below:

orion and dumbbell nebulae history
orion and dumbbell nebulae equipment used
orion and dumbbell nebulae visual observing sessions
orion and dumbbell nebulae imaging sessions
orion and dumbbell nebulae image post-processing
orion and dumbbell nebulae "The Imperative of Night" narrative

Ghosts of Christmas Past
Please click this text or the image to the left to access Willis' second book -- Ghosts of Christmas Past -- a book of photographs and essays. The book chronicles more than thee decades of curiosity, discovery and celebration -- archived through the family's annual Christmas card featuring Willis' evocative images of natural wonders. Included are photographs of magnificent unique and endangered wildlife, spectacular scenics and (most appropriate here!) astronomical phenomena. Most years the holiday cards also featured essays describing these wonders literally. Click and review the book -- I hope you enjoy it!

visual observing sessions
imaging sessions
image post-processing
"The Imperative of Night" narrative
contact us


(all content copyright 2015-2020 Willis Greiner Photography, all rights reserved)