On July 13, 2020, I assembled my equipment to see if I could get images of Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3). I used my sturdiest tripod, remote shutter release, DSLR camera and binoculars. I set up on my deck, behind our house, which faces to the northwest. At about 8:45 PM EDT, I started by observation session.
Conditions were a little less than ideal. The sky along the horizon looked hazy and it was still twilight. The stars were not visible, which made it hard to find the comet without any points of reference. I scanned the skies with my binoculars to try to find it. Around 9:45 PM EDT, I thought it was a bust and began to break the equipment down for the night. I thought that it had already set behind Bald Eagle Ridge. However, I decided to scan the sky one last time. That’s when I spotted NEOWISE with my binoculars. I quickly set up again, pointed the camera in the general area, at 100 mm focal length, and got the following image.
I centered the image in the viewfinder, zoomed in to 200 mm focal length, and took several more images before the comet faded in the haze and set behind the tree. The following images were the two best results.
The following night, I was able to take this image.
Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE (Neowise, for short) is the third comet this year to be discovered by astronomers. It may become a bright, naked eye object, beginning July 11, if it survives its closest approach to The Sun. Some comets either breakup or fall into The Sun at perihelion.
Neowise has already made an appearance in the early morning hours, and some have taken photographs.
The comet will make its closest approach to Earth on July 23, which may make for a spectacular viewing opportunity if it holds together. Neowise will also be a bit higher in the sky on July 24 and 25.
There hasn’t been a bright comet since Hale-Bopp in 1997. However, comets are notoriously unpredictable, and this one could break up and burn out at any time.
Here’s where you can spot the comet beginning Sunday, July 11. Online resources like TheSkyLive also offer similar night sky maps.
Tonight was my first night out with my new 10-inch Dobsonian telescope. My first target was The Moon. The scope produced a very sharp image with a 24 mm wide field eyepiece.
My second target was Jupiter. I was able to resolve the four Galilean moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Also, I could resolve two bands on Jupiter. I switched to a 17 mm eyepiece for a slightly closer look, and the bands were clearer. The view was similar to this image.
The tracking function worked well and kept Jupiter in the field of view. Jupiter was also low in the sky from 9 to 10 PM, and there was some thin cirrus clouds, which would account for the fuzzy periods. Jupiter will be higher later this year.
For my next viewing opportunity I will need for clearer, darker skies to align the Go-To function. Also, I need to try using my reading glasses. Also, I will try my camera attachment, connected to my laptop. I am looking forward to viewing Saturn and Mars.
I recently bought a new telescope. It is a 10 inch Dobsonian with a Go-To drive. The base required some assembly, which I completed in an hour. Now it is composed of two main parts, the base and optical tube. It sits on a cart so that it can be easily moved from indoors and then back inside. The finder-scope has been installed and aligned. I hope to complete its initialization soon and start observing operations. However, cloudy, rainy weather has curtailed any observations.
Propagation on the 40-meter and 75-meter bands has been very poor during the past few days. I have a backlog of several radiograms to send, as a result, since it has been difficult to hear the other stations on the nets where I usually check-in.
There is a wide “hole” in The Sun’s atmosphere from which gaseous material has been flowing. The resultant solar winds have caused a geomagnetic storm to occur on Earth. The Aurora has been visible in northern Minnesota. The geomagnetic storms may last for more than a day or two.