Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) – 7 July 2020

C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) – 7 July 2020, 3:44AM MST / 1044UT
Click for larger version.

There were no nearby clouds to contend with this morning and that permitted the view I was after with Merriam Crater. On any given day that old cinder cone is perfect—then catching it sharing the horizon with this graceful comet gets kind of goosebumpy for me.

I tried to see how long I could observe it visually with binoculars and was able to see it from 3:31-4:54AM—basically right on the horizon up to 13° at the end when the sun was 5° below the horizon. I was able to observe it naked eye, including the tail, up to the last 20 minutes or so.

Theta Auriga was conveniently 3° away for comparison, so naked eye the tail appeared about 1° in length. Through binoculars more like 2.5° long and photographically, about 3.5°. It kept its yellowish color up to the last 20 minutes or so when the sky was pretty bright and making it hard to detect. The pseudonucleus appeared more neutral in color and the tail had that bifurcation both visually through binoculars and photographically. I made a quick field sketch — first one I’ve done in a while — hopefully I can get that finished up & posted soon.

Photographically I think I’m picking up a hint of an ion tail very faintly just left of the curving dust tail. I need to work on some of the other magnified images to see if it’s really there.

  • Image is from east of Flagstaff, Arizona, USA. 3:44AM MST/1044 UT.
  • The comet is 2° above horizon/sun is 16° below horizon.
  • Image comprised of 6 sequential exposures stacked and aligned to improve signal-to-noise ratio.
  • Canon EOS 6D Mark II, Canon EF 70-300mm lens at 130mm, f/5.0, 2 sec, ISO 6400.
Subject C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE)
Classification Comet
Position (J2000) Auriga: [RA: 6h 14.729 / Dec: 36° 24.904′ ]*
Magnitude Not estimated
Date/Time 7 JULY 2020 – 3:31-4:54 AM MST (1031-1154 UT)
Observing Loc. Leupp Road, east of Flagstaff, Arizona, USA
Instrument 15 x 70 Oberwerk Binoculars / naked eye / Canon 6D Mark II
Conditions Clear, twilight
Seeing Not estimated
Transparency Astronomical through civil twilight
*References Starry Night Pro