When two astronomical events occurred earlier this year, local photographer Mark William Warnick was there to capture them with his camera.
Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) passed across the northern hemisphere in July, being the brightest comet visible in decades, and Mark was there to snap a picture of it.
On Dec. 21, when Jupiter and Saturn appeared closer to each other from our perspective than they have in 400 years, Mark also had his camera ready..
“I went out there the first night and didn’t see it,” Mark said. “Then, I went out the second night. I couldn’t see it by the naked eye, but I pointed my camera in that direction then enlarged it on the screen and saw it. I was able to dial it in and get the photos.”
Mark lives in Bald Knob and has a hill on his property that allows him a clear view of the night sky with little light pollution.
“I love the night out here,” Mark said. “There’s hardly a sound. I have a hill on the other side of the fence and there’s one tree sitting on it. I sit out there for two or three hours.”
Mark said he watched the convergence of Jupiter and Saturn all summer long, but on the night when they were the closest, he enlisted the help of his neighbor.
“I shot it on top of my neighbor’s hunting shack,” he said.
The planets had dropped lower in the night sky and he needed to photograph it from a higher vantage point so the trees didn’t obstruct the planets.
Mark also loves to photograph the moon. Using either his 600mm lens or a Nikon P900 super zoom camera, he is able to capture a lot of detail on the moon’s surface. He is hoping to one day take a picture of the American flag that is on the moon.
“I like to catch the moon when it’s rising,” he said.
One popular photo he posted on Facebook was of his neighbor’s cross in their yard with the moon rising behind it. The photo garnered 1,500 comments in a Facebook group.
Mark also enjoys photographing the galactic center of the Milky Way.
“It comes up in late April,” Mark said. “A dark moon is the best time to see it.”
He also likes shooting city landscapes at night. He has several photos of Frankfort and even the New York City skyline that he photographed while visiting his daughter, Lindsay, who lives there and works in the theatre industry.
Mark doesn’t only photograph at night though. He is also fond of birds and enjoys snapping their photos at the Pfeiffer Fish Hatchery. He’s also taken shots of a pair of eagles on his friend’s property just over the northern Franklin County line in Henry County.
“There’s a private lake and the eagles come down and fish,” Mark said. “I love to take pictures of birds in flight.”
Another popular photo that Mark has posted on social media is one he calls “Heaven’s Gate.” Mark likes to take photos of the sunrise and sunset and about four years ago he was leaving his house one foggy morning in December, he noticed the sun rising between the gates of his neighbor’s driveway.
“I carry my camera with me everywhere I go,” he said. “If you don’t get the picture now, you’ll miss it.”
He stopped and took the picture and went to work. He has sold $1,400 in prints of that photo.
Mark posts just about daily to his Facebook page photos of sunrises or sunsets, the moon or stars. He also posts a lot of his son Tony, 33, who has cerebral palsy. Mark and Tony share in another hobby — motorcycles.
Mark has a trike that he and Tony ride all over the state and surrounding states. Mark documents their adventures and posts photos to social media.
“His nickname is T-dog.”
For his day job, Mark puts down his camera and picks up his tools to do contract work. He has done a lot of renovation projects for the state, but now mainly does residential work.
However, he’s looking to retire in the spring so that he can spend more time with his wife, Barbara, and children — and of course focus on his hobby, which he says has brought so much joy to people on social media.
“I post photos because it seems to make a lot of people happy, and they look forward to seeing them,” Mark said. “I show people things that they might not get to see on their own.
“I see photos everywhere I look.”