THE GREAT COMET nEOWISE – c/2020 F3
The finest Northern Hemisphere Comet since Hale-Bopp in 1997. Discovered on March 27th by the Earth-orbiting NASA satellite NEOWISE, the Comet is first imaged here at 0200 IST with an estimated magnitude of +2 [cf. Menkalinan (a), mag 1.9]. Earth distance – 86 million miles.
Above – 0221 IST. With (a) mag 5.2 56 Aur (separation: 3.7°). Below – cropped view
Above – 0248 IST; 3 million miles closer to Earth and tail length approaching 6°. Below – cropped version; with (a) 55 Aur, mag 5; 2.5° separation.
Above – 0305 IST; as seen through the 8-inch SCT. With (a) mag 6.8 HIP 32433 in Auriga, separated by 15 arcmins from (b) mag 7.9 HIP 32493. Below – 40 second exposure. This rendition is considered by the uploader as possibly the signal image in these pages.
0324 IST; rare conjunction of a naked-eye comet with a spectacular noctilucent cloud display.
0255 IST; with (a) mag 4.6 21 Lyncis. Stitched image due to pervasive cloud cover. The Comet reached perihelion on July 3rd at 27 million miles; orbital period ~7000 years.
2338 IST; Comet NEOWISE is now 69 million miles from Earth; closest approach on July 23rd at 65 million. With (a) mag 6.9 HIP 40165 in Lynx; separation 1.5°
0113 IST; on this night, both dust and ion tails can be seen extending an impressive 15 degrees, in the case of the former, and, using averted vision and a dark background, some 18 degrees for the latter, in the direction of Dubhe and Merak. Below – cropped view; with (a) mag 4.2 kappa UMa and mag 3.1 Talitha, half a degree from the comet.
0106 IST; panoramic view. Estimated magnitude: 2.5
0047 IST; The Comet and, 12 million times closer to the Earth, the lights of a west-east aircraft.
0150 IST; 25-second exposure through the 8″ SCT. With (a) mag 9.5 HIP 44422 in Ursa Major; separation 5 arcminutes. The cometary nucleus has an estimated diameter of 3 miles.
0125 IST; through a 300mm lens. With (a) mag 7.5 HIP 45960 in Ursa Major; separation 0.7°
Above – 0037 IST; with (a) mag 5.3 SY UMa, separation 3.3°. Below – 0047 IST; Comet NEOWISE and the Plough. Increasing moonlight hindered the Comet’s visibility after this point and by early August its magnitude had dropped to ~5.5, drawing a memorable apparition to a close.