Comet Neowise (C/2020 F3)

Comet Neowise is a bright comet in the constellation of Ursa Major. It was visible by eye in the NW on 21st July 2020, but was best seen with binoculars. That day I took this photo from my back garden in the fading dusk (around 11 pm BST) with a Canon D50 DSLR as a series of 27 x 15 sec exposures (ISO 1600, f/4.5). The images were stacked together to reveal fine detail.

There are two tails: a bright dust tail extending upwards from the coma, and curving off to the right hand side, and a faint, straight plasma or ion tail on the left. The ion tail is produced by ionization of the coma by the solar wind.

Neowise was closest to Earth on 23 July 2020, and follows a parabolic orbit. It originates from far out in the solar system, in the Oort cloud, following a near-parabolic orbit, and passing close to the Sun once every 6,766 years. It was discovered by a space telescope – the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) on March 27th 2020.

Comet Neowise (C/2020 F3)

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