Friday, July 17, 2020

comet success! (Bradford)

The skies looked great!

We headed to the water tower again, behind St Teresa of Calcutta, armed with bug repellent, light clothing, tripod, binoculars, and astronomy apps.

I scanned the sky with the binoculars, about 20 degrees up, but couldn't see it.

Rhonda checked her phone.

9:50. Looked straight down from Dubhe. Made a brief stop at θ (theta) Ursae Majoris. Continued down to the wide pair of Talitha. Got it! The comet was obvious down and right. The core of C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) was not as bright as the main star of Talitha but close to the magnitude of the dimmer star. The tail was obvious but dim, angled up and slightly to the right.

comet below Dubhe on mobile phone app

Rhonda saw it naked eye first. It took me a lot longer.

The bugs were ferocious.

10:10. One last look in the Bushnell InstaFocus binoculars. Very nice. Much better against the darker sky!

OK. No more bloodletting!

10:13. Spotted three moons of Jupiter, to the right or west. [ed: Europa was furthest out, then Ganymede. Io was tricky, close to the planet.] Couldn't see the fourth. I wondered if it was on the left. Flaring in the specs.

Orange Saturn showed no features at 7x but it was clearly not round.

We packed up. Near the big coniferous tree, blocking the street light, the comet was easy to tag with the unaided eye. The tail was spectacular, curving upwards into the indigo sky.


And a neat experience to see this comet again, now in the evening!

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