My First Images of Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3)

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.

2 sec exposure, f/4.7, ISO 1600, Focal Length 103

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.

2 sec exposure, f/5.6, ISO 1600, Focal Length 200
2 sec exposure, f/5.6, ISO 1600, Focal Length 200

The following night, I was able to take this image.

2 sec exposure, f/5.6, ISO 1600, Focal Length 200

Comet Neowise (C/2020 F3)

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.

Neowise over Toronto

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.