Comet NEOWISE from Hartshorne, Swadlincote

The night sky was predicted to be clear so it was time to find out what all the fuss was about with the new comet NEOWISE. I had researched its predicted position below the Plough and to the west of Capella but despite searching with 15×70 bins could not find it. I now realize it has dimmed considerably since it was last visible in early July. Frustrated, I called on back-up, the WhatsApp group of astrophotographers who quickly pointed me in the right direction (many thanks to all who responded), vertically below Dubhe, brightest star in the Plough.  Through the bins it was unmistakeable, a bluish blob with a faint whitish tail. It was still quite light to the west but showed better as the sky darkened. It was then easy to find in the Dob-mounted Sky-Watcher 250 PDS with a 32mm eyepiece. To record the occasion of my first comet viewing I used a Canon 60D with ISO 1600 and 3.2 seconds, longer exposures gave star trails.

I tried to allow plenty of space in the frame for the tail but it still extends out of view. Not perfect, but I am pleased with my first comet photos.

Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE)

Paul McKay

 

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