Comet NEOWISE in the Northern Skies!

Comet Neowise 12 JULY 2020 by Instagram user Marcella Botti. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Taken from Ca’ del Monte in northern Italy on 12 July 2020. Tele Vue Genesis APO refractor  (The Perfect Telescope …) with Canon 77D on iOptron GEM45 mount. Exposure was 70 seconds at ISO 800.

Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3) has been intriguing northern sky watchers all summer and will continue to do so for a bit longer as it travels through the “paws” of Ursa Major. It became glorious as a morning object for amateur astronomers in June, but, after transitioned to the evening sky in July, it has become better appreciated by the general public.

C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) by Instagram user Nathaniel Paust. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Taken 16 July 2020 (evening) from Edmonds, Washington. Tele Vue-NP101 APO refractor (now the NP101is) with Nikon D850 on iOptron mount. Exposure was 30 seconds and only brightness and contrast have been adjusted.

The comet is closest to Earth tonight, July 22, as it makes its evening appearance for the east coast of North America. This will happen at 9:14 pm EDT with the comet 0.692 AU* from the Earth at a predicted 3.3 magnitude and elongation (angle) from the Sun of 37.6°.  At this time it will be 0.630 AU from the Sun as it approaches the orbit of Venus (0.723 AU) during its outbound voyage from our star.
*1 AU is the average distance between the centers of the Earth and Sun. It is about 93 million miles / 150 million km.

Comet Neowise bursting through the clouds by Instagram user Jeff Husted. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Taken from Tehachapi, California on the morning of 12 July 2020. Tele Vue-NP127is APO refractor with Canon 5D IV on Orion Atlas mount.

The official designation “C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE)” arises from the International Astronomical Union Comet Designation System.  It tells us the following about the object.

    • C“: non-periodic comet
      (Periodic comets have a return period of fewer than 200 years or have at least two observed passages near the Sun.)
    • 2020“: discovered in the year 2020
    • F“: discovered in the last half of “March”
      (The half-month-letter system uses: “A” = 1st half of January, “B” = 2nd half of January, “C” = 1st half of February, and so-on, but skipping the letter “I”. )
    • 3“: the third comet discovered for the half-month 
    • NEOWISE“: the name of the discoverer

To put it all in words, the comet was discovered on 27 March 2020 by the near-Earth Orbit (NEO) mission of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) space telescope — thus “NEOWISE”.  Calculations indicate that the comet was last in the vicinity of the Sun  4400 years ago. But the next visitation will be 6700 years hence due to changes in its orbit. When it does return, it will carry the periodic comet “P” designation and be assigned the next sequential number in the list of periodic comets.

Night Vision Neowise by Al Nagler. All rights reserved. Used by permission. This was taken on Sunday, 12 July 2020 from northern New Jersey at about 4:15 am.  Tele Vue-76 APO refractor + 67mm Plössl +  TNVC, Inc. PVS-14 L3 Gen3 Un-Filmed White Phosphor night vision monocular + Tele Vue FoneMate + Samsung Galaxy J3 smartphone.

Al Nagler’s night vision images of the comet in the morning sky (above and below) are amazing in that they were made using ridiculously short 1/8″ exposures on an ordinary Samsung Galaxy J3 smartphone! The first part of the imaging train was conventional: a Tele Vue-76 APO refractor and 67mm Plössl (Tele Vue 55mm and Tele Vue 67mm Converter for 55mm Plössl) at 9x power. On the back-end, a TNVC, Inc PVS-14 L3 Gen3 Un-Filmed White Phosphor night vision monocular was attached to the Plossl and a Tele Vue FoneMate carrying a Samsung Galaxy J3 smartphone was attached to the PVS-14 eyepieces. The image intensifying effect of the PVS-14 allowed the phone to use a short exposure without the need for tracking or imagine stacking!

Animated Night Vision Neowise by Al Nagler. All rights reserved. Used by permission. These were taken on Sunday, 12 July 2020 from northern New Jersey at about 4:15 am.  Tele Vue-76 APO refractor + 67mm Plössl +  TNVC, Inc. PVS-14 L3 Gen3 Un-Filmed White Phosphor night vision monocular + Tele Vue FoneMate + Samsung Galaxy J3 smartphone.

David Nagler captured the comet in the evening sky using a similar night vision setup. This time the Tele Vue-NP101is APO refractor was used as the imaging scope. The longer focal length and faster optics of this scope caught more of the tail of the comet. Below is a single photo at only 1/6″ exposure on a smartphone.

Long Tail Neowise in Night Vision by David Nagler. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Taken on Saturday, 18 July 2020 at 9:49 pm. Tele Vue-NP101is APO refractor + 67mm Plössl + TNVC, Inc. PVS-14 L3 Gen3 Un-Filmed White Phosphor night vision monocular + Tele Vue FoneMate + Samsung Galaxy Note 9 smartphone using 1/6″ exposure.

Comet NEOWISE lightcurve estimates show the comet fading to 5th magnitude by the first week in August. This means it’ll be a naked-eye evening object for dark sites and a binocular target for suburban sites for the next two weeks. After that, barring any outbursts, it’ll be a binocular and then a telescopic target for the rest of the summer. 

C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) through the fog by Satesh Mahadeo. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Taken through the fog on the night of 17 July 2020 (evening). A bit of the ion tail came through despite the conditions. Tele Vue-60is APO refractor and Canon Rebel EOS SL1 camera. Exposure was 11 x 30-seconds at ISO 1600.
Did you observe, sketch, or image with Tele Vue gear? We’ll like your social media post on that if you tag it #televue and the gear used. Example:
#televue #NP127fli #powermate #NEOWISE

 
Instagram users! Do you want your Tele Vue images re-posted on Tele Vue Optics’ Instagram account? Use this hashtag for consideration:
#RPTVO

 

Saturn in Opposition!
Saturn 13 July 2020 by flickr user Russell Smith . All rights reserved. Used by permission.
For the above image, Russell Smith used a Sky-Watcher 12″ GoTo Dobsonian with Tele Vue 5x Powermate to achieve the 7,500mm effective focal length required to capture this photo of Saturn. Imaged with QHY163M and Baader RGB filters. Software used was: Sharpcap, PIPP, AutoStakkert 3, WinJupos, RegiStax 6, Topaz Denoise Ai, and CS6. Taken from his backyard in Melbourne, Australia.
 
The second-largest major planet reached opposition from Earth on the 20th of this month. This means it will rise at sunset and be in the sky all night long. This is just a few days after the Jupiter opposition which means the planets are near each other. In fact, you’ll easily spot brilliant Jupiter leading the parade in the eastern sky with Saturn trailing it.
 
The ringed wonder will be a 0.1 magnitude and 18.5″ in diameter. Being so far away (9 AU) it’ll only shrink to 18″ on the last day of August when it will have imperceptibly dimmed to 0.3 magnitude. For tips and resources on viewing and imaging planets, see our blog post from last year’s Jupiter opposition event.
 

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