While Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3) continues to be a wonderful sight in the evening sky, I'm reminded of how weather dependent astronomy is. Here in New Mexico we're in the monsoon season. And true to its form, our night sky has been totally clouded out for the past several nights. Finally, on Tuesday the forecast for that night had improved to "mostly cloudy".
It was five days ago that I took a picture of the comet so I planned to set up my photo rig in hopes of getting a new image tonight. About sunset I started setting up the equipment: finding a good spot in the yard to see low to the northwest horizon, setting up and leveling the iOptron ZEQ-25 telescope mount, attaching the camera and connecting it to the laptop computer. By the time my neighbor Joe came over to watch the comet it was dark enough that I could polar align and synchronize the mount to the sky.
As it got darker, we waited... and waited. Every now and then a portion of the comet would appear among the clouds. Each time I'd start a sequence of image exposures in hopes of getting something useful. A few times it cleared enough that we could see the comet and its dust tail with the naked eye. Joe finally got to see why Neowise was special.
Even though the sky wasn't cloud-free, this image of Neowise nicely shows the comet's yellowish dust tail and bluish ion tail. And, in a way, the clouds add an interesting dimension to the picture.
Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3) has blossomed into a fine sight right now in the early evening sky. Dottie and I watched it last night and it was obvious low on the northwest horizon. Here in our dark skies I estimated that the tail was about six degrees long to the unaided eye.
Since the comet is very low in the sky I set up a photo rig on the driveway where I could see down to the horizon. I can't actually image that low from the observatory. This picture was taken at 9:18, about an hour after sunset, so it wasn't totally dark yet. Even though some clouds are in the way, a good amount of its dust tail is visible.
Thirty minutes later the sky was almost totally dark and the dim parts of the comet popped out. Now both the yellowish dust tail and the bluish ion tail really stand out and are very long. Jump over to the Solar System astrophoto page to see this image. Urban light pollution will mask the fainter parts of the comet too. So if possible, go to a darker location to view this wonderful comet. You'll see a whole lot more of it!
Astronomy and music go together... right? Well, I think so anyway. So I regularly have music playing in the observatory when I'm out there taking pictures. Dottie and my favorite pianist/composer is Robin Spielberg and I thought her song Spellbound would be a perfect match for an astronomy slideshow. So I put together a music video using some of my astronomy photos set to Spellbound.
Dottie and I met Robin about a year ago and shortly into a conversation I learned she loves astronomy pictures. Since then Robin has been enjoying my astronomy photos that I've shared with her. When I sent Robin my Spellbound Nights video she posted it on her YouTube Channel as the "Spellbound - Official Video". How cool is that!
Here's a link to the Spellbound music video. Take a look!