Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE)


Comet NEOWISE was discovered by the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer satellite on the 27th of March this year, but initially not expected to brighten much more than magnitude 2.5.  Comets are nothing if not unpredictable and as it approached perihelion (closest point to the sun) on the 3rd of July, it began to shed a much greater plume making it brighter and more visible.  On the night of viewing - the magnitude was estimated at 1.8.  It was certainly a distinct though faint, naked eye object in the north by northwest sky in Oxfordshire.  This photograph was taken from the Ridgeway on the West Ilsley road, off the A34 in West Berkshire.  There was medium transparency with poor-to-medium seeing due to a persistent westerly wind. 

Equipment - William Optics ZX66 Apochromat refractor with 0.8X reducer and field flattener and Nikon D80 at prime focus.  The photograph is a summation of 7 of the best 10 second exposures at ISO800, with minimal processing to set white point and increase midtones.  There was one pass of noise- ninja to remove background noise.

Below is a photograph of me on the night:



I took some more pictures of the comet on 20th July 2020 from my backgarden in Sunningwell, when it had moved further west and higher into Ursa Major.  This time, I just used a daytime lens: my Nikkor 70-300mm zoom.  The camera was set to ISO800, exposure 6 seconds, aperture f4.2.  Here is one of the processed images - it has had some midtone enhancement in Photoshop and noise filtering with Noise Ninja.



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