Comet Neowise: The Elusive One [C/2020 F3]
Telescope: Orion St-80 Camera: Canon T3i ISO: 1600 @ 10 s Total Time: 3.3 minutes

Comet Neowise: The Elusive One [C/2020 F3]

Comet Neowise or C/2020 F3 is the 3rd comet found by the NASA Neowise Mission. Neowise is an acronym meaning Near Earth Object Wide-Field Infrared Survey. Altogether it’s a mouthful, thus the use of the acronym. With that explanation out of the way, let’s get to the problem. I live on earth! This comet has become a world wide sensation from astro geeks to the casual observer. After all, it’s been visible to the naked eye, so why not flood the internet with pictures.

Comet Neowise and My Location on Earth

Obviously there was no way that I was going to miss out on this opportunity to photograph and view this comet. In consideration of my busy schedule, my opportunities were limited. Certainly, Comet Neowise survived it’s trip around the Sun and would be visible for a few weeks.

Hampton Roads VA

Early on, Neowise was low in the sky. And it was visible in the early morning hours just before sunrise. Great, a few members of the astronomy club spotted it, so can I. First attempt, view from my neighborhood. First failure, too many trees as a result of it being low in the sky.

I live in an area where parts of it border a river, the Chesapeake Bay or Atlantic Ocean. Of course, that means I have to travel. I chose a few days later to go out at night when it was finally visible after sunset. Remaining low in the sky, my new problem was low level clouds at the horizon high enough to block the comet.

Clouds

Ok I’ll wait, sooner or later the will go a way. I was wrong, in fact. The clouds mocked me for almost 2 weeks both sunrise, sunset and then all day. I turned to the internet to enjoy the wonder of Comet Neowise. All the while I built up a strong dislike for clouds. The ways I know of to control the clouds include travelling to a desert climate and getting above the clouds. Welp I guess I need to drive to a desert.

Comet Neowise: 3 Weeks Later

Telescope: Orion St-80
Camera: Canon T3i
ISO: 1600 @ 10 s
Total Time: 10 s

Waiting while others saturated the internet with photos of this comet was frustrating. I even lost interest towards the end of the 3 weeks. On the day of capture, I happened to check the weather. To my surprise, it was very clear and the comet was below the Big Dipper. One last try, jump in the car with my grab and go rig. I drove to Fort Monroe, setup and waited (some more) for sunset. And this time, right where Stellarium showed me it would be, I spotted it through the eyepiece on my Orion ST-80 telescope. My reward, was actually seeing my first comet and subsequently taking a photo.

Conclusion

Stacked Photo of Comet Neowise
Telescope: Orion St-80
Camera: Canon T3i
ISO: 1600 @ 10 s
Total Time: 3.3 minutes

I may have missed the best of the Comet Neowise display, but it didn’t disappoint. Nevertheless there will be other comets. I just hope they will be naked eye visible and the clouds nonexistent. So until next time, the sky is only the limit when your mind is unwilling to fly. Go beyond.

Kevin Francis

Kevin Francis is a Mechanical Engineer by day, amateur Astrophotographer by night who is taking his Google Pixel smartphone camera to new limits.

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