Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE


C/2020 F3 NEOWISE rising over Plattsburgh

Finally! A naked eye comet in the morning sky. Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE was discovered in March 27, 2020, by the NEOWISE (Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer) space telescope. It survived perihelion (the point in the orbit at which it is closest to the sun) on July 3, 2020. It was clearly naked eye and was easily visible.

I woke up on July 6th at 3:00 AM. I trekked up to a hilltop which overlooked the Champlain Vally, which includes Plattsburgh, New York, Lake Champlain and Burlington, Vermont. I brought my Canon T5i DSLR camera, the Stock Canon 75mm to 300mm lens, a fixed tripod, and an intervalometer to trigger the exposure. When I got To the hilltop, I knew from the sky chart, the comet would be below the bright star Capella. I looked at Capella and clearly saw the bright comet and the tail. It was truly an amazing sight. It ranks up there with the coolest things I have ever seen.

Visible in the early morning sky in early July

The comet is currently visible in the early morning sky at sunrise, but will slowly move to the evening sky and up toward the Big Dipper later this month.

Visible in the evening sky in late July

Once I spotted the comet, I set the fixed tripod and set the camera up with the 75mm to 300mm lens. I started with a 10 second exposure but realized that was too bright, and I also noticed the stars were trailing at 200mm focal length. I increased the ISO to 6400 and dropped the exposure to 1 second. It was absolutely perfect. I started imaging. I imaged in RAW format. I did not stack the images at the 200mm focal length. It is just a single 1 second exposed image.

For the wide field image, I backed the zoom out to 75mm focal length. I captured a one second image, two second image and a four second image. I combined them together in Photoshop and processed the final image.

Bracketed imaging

I strongly urge you to get out and check out the comet. It is a wonderful sight.

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