Astrophotographers can capture the Comet NEOWISE right now

Jul 12, 2020

David Williams

Dave Williams is an accomplished travel photographer, writer, and best-selling author from the UK. He is also a photography educator and published Aurora expert. Dave has traveled extensively in recent years, capturing stunning images from around the world in a modified van. His work has been featured in various publications and he has worked with notable brands such as Skoda, EE, Boeing, Huawei, Microsoft, BMW, Conde Nast, Electronic Arts, Discovery, BBC, The Guardian, ESPN, NBC, and many others.

Astrophotographers can capture the Comet NEOWISE right now

Jul 12, 2020

David Williams

Dave Williams is an accomplished travel photographer, writer, and best-selling author from the UK. He is also a photography educator and published Aurora expert. Dave has traveled extensively in recent years, capturing stunning images from around the world in a modified van. His work has been featured in various publications and he has worked with notable brands such as Skoda, EE, Boeing, Huawei, Microsoft, BMW, Conde Nast, Electronic Arts, Discovery, BBC, The Guardian, ESPN, NBC, and many others.

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Image Copyright: NASA

Astrophotographers have the opportunity to spot a rare object in the sky this month. A newly discovered comet, NEOWISE, is flying through the inner solar system for the first time in 6,800 years. (6,800 FRIGGIN YEARS!!!). This comet has been getting brighter and brighter in the early-morning sky and, in the coming days, it will make an appearance in the evening after sunset. It is now brighter than Halley’s Comet appeared when it whizzed through the inner solar system in 1986.

NASA discovered the comet in March with the NEOWISE mission. Across the Northern Hemisphere, stargazers and astrophotographers alike can enjoy a glimpse of this interstellar object. Officially designated Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE), it is one of three comets discovered this year. Earlier in 2020 the two other comets, Comet SWAN and Comet ATLAS, were discovered. They were showing promising signs of eventually becoming bright enough to see with the naked eye, but both eventually fizzled out. Comet NEOWISE has lived up to astronomers’ predictions that it could become a visible feature in the night sky.

How to spot NEOWISE

Comet NEOWISE can be seen with the naked eye. It’s important to know what time and what direction to look to see it as it will not be a prominent feature in the sky.

Right now, it is only visible in the early morning about one to two hours before sunrise in the northeastern sky. An early alarm is familiar to most photographers. An early start is the best way to spot the comet before it gets lost in the daylight.

On July 22nd the Comet NEOWISE will make its closest approach to the Earth. On July 25th it will appear at thirty degrees above the horizon to the northwest, just after sunset.

Evening stargazers will be able to see the comet starting on the week of July 13th off to the northwest, just below the Big Dipper or the Plough.

From mid-July on, it’s best viewed as an evening object, rising increasingly higher above the northwestern horizon,” NASA says. “Its closest approach to Earth will be on July 22nd, at a distance of about 64 million miles (103 million kilometres).” For comparison, the sun is about 93 million miles from Earth.

Many pictures of Comet NEOWISE on social media depict it as a brilliant object filling an area of the sky. To the unaided eye it will just look like a fuzzy star with a faint tail.

Image Copyright: NASA/Bill Dunford

How to photograph NEOWISE

For people trying to take pictures of the comet, we recommend a long exposure. This will allow the camera to capture more light and reveal more details of the comet.

A photo with an exposure of 5 to 10 seconds should be enough. This will capture the glow of the comet and its long tail with detail that our eye simply cannot see.

Comet Photography is a sub-genre of astrophotography, with its own methods available.

A panorama of the night sky allows us to take in the bigger picture, having Comet NEOWISE as a feature of the scene.

Some smartphones are able to take long-exposure photographs, either with the built-in camera or with the help of an app.

Image Copyright: NASA

The tiny shooting star in this image is Comet Neowise. This is a photo from the International Space Station as it orbited above the Mediterranean Sea in between Tunisia and Italy.

After Comet NEOWISE leaves the inner solar system, it won’t return for another 6,800 years.

It is difficult to know when a long-period comet, such as Comet NEOWISE, will come along and put on a bright display in the sky. Be sure to take advantage of this rare opportunity to see a comet before it’s too late.

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David Williams

David Williams

Dave Williams is an accomplished travel photographer, writer, and best-selling author from the UK. He is also a photography educator and published Aurora expert. Dave has traveled extensively in recent years, capturing stunning images from around the world in a modified van. His work has been featured in various publications and he has worked with notable brands such as Skoda, EE, Boeing, Huawei, Microsoft, BMW, Conde Nast, Electronic Arts, Discovery, BBC, The Guardian, ESPN, NBC, and many others.

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11 responses to “Astrophotographers can capture the Comet NEOWISE right now”

  1. Cyril Charpin Avatar
    Cyril Charpin

    Over the bay of Cannes.

  2. Charlie Bruce Avatar
    Charlie Bruce

    Not if its cloudy!!!

    1. ShishkaBerry Avatar
      ShishkaBerry

      Ikr, my forecast is calling for clouds all this week!

  3. Mike Downey Avatar
    Mike Downey

    Or they can sleep in and let the thousands of others get the photos.

    1. mike Avatar
      mike

      no shit Sherlock

  4. Richard Nielsen Avatar
    Richard Nielsen

    My son-in-law might have captured it from Yosemite’s Glacier Point while capturing the Milky-Way night before last .

  5. Marie Ferguson Avatar
    Marie Ferguson

    Or set up a timelapse cam and still get a view while sleeping in. ?

  6. Charles Avatar
    Charles

    Neowise has been visible here in Ireland from about an hour after sunset low to the north east, om not sure why this article mentions north west, it is visible and has a very bright coma and a long tail, I have tweeted a great image of the comet, also on Instagram @irishbogman

  7. Charles Avatar
    Charles

    Neowise has been visible here in Ireland from about an hour after sunset low to the north east, not sure why this article mentions northwest, it is visible to the naked eve low in the sky to the north east and has a bright coma and a long tail, I have tweeted my image taken here in Ardmore South East Ireland shortly after 2am Sunday morning July 12th, Charles Coughlan @irishbogman https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/53bc11a282851f844ea1b478097d9af1bfa175e0f8c7e28b7605db45c2a5b74b.jpg

  8. Davina Wonderling Avatar
    Davina Wonderling

    Beautiful shots, everybody! ☄️