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A Cloudy Comet Neowise

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 on 2020-07-21

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