Comet Neowise

This is Comet Neowise or, more officially, C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) – a retrograde comet – during July it is just visible with the naked-eye (not directly looking at it, you have to use averted vision due to the way ours eyes work) – better with binoculars and better still with a long exposure photograph! Neowise has a very long orbit – it will not return to our solar system for 4500-6800 years!

Anyway, I had been wanting to see this since I heard about it a couple of weeks ago and finally, we caught a break with the weather and got a clear enough night – I took our dog for a walk at around 20:00 and it looked very doubtful…the sky was full of cloud. By chance, I took a look outside later at around 22:15 and saw that I could see stars – the cloud had mostly gone. Game on!

At almost 23:00, my daughter, Freya, and I went to Shipton Down – not ideal as there is the Burford-Chalbury road behind us…but in the end there wasn’t too much traffic at that time of night. There was cloud to the north, but thankfully it was quite low to the horizon and Neowise was visible above it.

It was a bit tricky to set up the camera and get it focused – the screen on the X-E1 doesn’t show stars very well…once I had a bright one in the view finder I was able to manually focus with the focus-check feature (zooms in). Then the challenge was to find Neowise again! I was on a fairly wide zoom setting, so took some longer exposure photos and reviewed them to see if I was in roughly the right place…then could fine tune.

Once composed, I was initially taking 5s (shot meta data shows 4s…not sure if that was me or the intervalometer!) exposures at ISO800 – I didn’t want to go to high on the ISO or there would be too much noise and I didn’t want to go too much longer on the exposure or the stars would start to streak due to the rotation of the Earth – 5-10s is acceptable – from previous astrophotography I have done, 30s is too long unless you want star trails!

Freya and I were able to view Neowise until around 00:00 when the cloud in the north had built up enough to obscure the comet – we did look around and to the south were able to view Saturn and Jupiter – the in the shot below, a car passed on the road giving and light trail from the headlights – not ideal, but adds some foreground interest! Saturn and Jupiter are the two brightest celestial objects in the shot in the middle of the frame – Saturn is slightly fainter on the left, with Jupiter on the right.

#2020 #astronomy #astrophotography #comet #CometNeowise #Neowise #cotswolds #UK #WestOxfordshire

Technical details:

Neowise frame – Fuji X-E1; 50mm(XC50-230mmF4.5-6.7 OIS); 4s@f4.5; ISO800 – tripod – post-processing in Lightroom – DSCF217020071810827

Saturn/Jupiter frame – Fuji X-E1; 18mm(XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS); 10s@f2.8; ISO800 – tripod – post-processing in Lightroom – DSCF227120071810928