Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3)

It is hard to believe that I have not written anything about comet Neowise yet. I need to change that and I need to change it now.

The comet Neowise was discovered only in March of this year, exactly on 27 March 2020. The space telescope Wise made its discovery possible and the comet with the official designation C/2020 F3 was given the name Neowise.

facts to comet neowise

At this point, I provide my readers with some smart-ass knowledge about C/2020 F3. It does not claim to be complete, but it will be enough for a good conversation.

Let’s start with the “ discoverer“, the space telescope Wise. Wise stands for Wide Field Infrared Survey Eexplorer. The 661 kg space telescope was sent into orbit around the Earth on 14 December 2009. Wise sent the first image on 26 December, after which everything was calibrated. Wise had the following tasks to perform:

  • Asteroids and other objects of the solar system. The aim of WISE is to find all asteroids of the main belt with more than 3 km in diameter; stars, including the stars closest to the Sun, and brown dwarfs
  • If the hypothetical star Nemesis had been a brown dwarf, WISE would have discovered it.
  • Young stars in the Milky Way and dust disks around more advanced stars. The most luminous galaxies and infrared galaxies. br>(Source Wikipedia)

Wise becomes neowise

We let Wise do his job until 17 February 2011. Several million pictures of space we have already owed the telescope until then. Wise was put into a hibernation state from which one wanted to wake it up only with appropriate financing. This also succeeded and the mission was continued under the name NEOWISE (Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Eexplorer).

Falls Ihr im Vorgarten mal sowas findet, das gehört der NASA.
Von NASA/JPL –, Gemeinfrei,

The Comet Neowise

What is a comet?

A comet or tail star is a “small” celestial body. Mostly they measure a diameter of several kilometres. Known comets are observed very closely on their orbit. So Halley’s comet is one of the best known comets, which approaches the earth about every 70 years and becomes visible for us. Comets can have different compositions, usually ice holds the dust and rock together. Near the sun the ice begins to melt and the characteristic tail of the comet is formed. Rocks and dust come loose and the sun shines on it.

What do we know about Neowise (C/2020 F3)?

Based on the observations made since its discovery, the orbit on which Neowise moves could be calculated. The last time the earth had come so close to the earth was in the year 2402 B.C. Gravitations on its path make a new sighting possible only in about 6,690 years.

On its orbit it will reach the farthest point of the sun (aphelion) around the year 5365. The distance between comet Neowise (C/2020 F3) and the sun will then be 103,000,000,000 km. If you set out on the journey to the sun, you can cover the distance 710 times to have an idea of how far C/2020 F3 is away.

In the year 8709 the comet Neowise with the cryptic name C/2020 F3 will appear again in the sky. So to make sure you don’t miss it, make a note in your calendar.

Could you photograph the comet C/2020 F3?

Yes, you can (could) photograph the comet. For this you had to be in the northern hemisphere and even here you had to hope for a cloudless sky. In the middle of July you could see C/2020 F3 very well in the night sky. It was visible after sunset and remained well visible from north to northeast at night. The lump of ice did not really want to sink, this is due to its orbit.

The comet Neowise (C/2020 F3) in sound and pictures

How did I capture C/2020 F3?

I spent two nights lying in wait or sent my camera on the hunt. I have summarised how this turned out in a video.

On the attic I built my Sony A7 with the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 on my Sirui tripod. I aligned the equipment with the App Sky Guide (iOS, Android). To save the pictures on memory card I used a remote cable release from Rollei.

The access from ayex was with two fully charged batteries from BAXXTAR Pro and was thus able to provide sufficient power for the camera all night long.

The exposure time was between 2.5 and 8 seconds. The aperture was set between F/2.8 and F/3.2. At an ISO between 800 and 1,000, this resulted in 3,902 shots, which I edited with Adobe Lightroom and LR Timelapes.

After I had no luck in the first night, I was able to take very good pictures of C/2020 F3, the comet Neowise, in the second night, which I would like to show you here.

Thank you for your attention. If you liked the text, the film or the pictures (preferably everything), please leave a comment here or on one of my Social Medai accounts.

If you are interested in the sky, the stars, the moon and the planets, I recommend the articles from the series “The sky in…” or my articles on astrophotography.

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