I don’t know where I was when the last naked-eye comet was around. Maybe I was too busy to notice, or I was under the city lights, or I just didn’t care. But holy cow, if I missed such a sight as comet NEOWISE, then I’ll start kicking myself retroactively!
For after my first glimpse of comet NEOWISE in the early evening July sky, I’m enthralled! Amazed!
Living here among the mountains makes it difficult to spy objects low on the horizon.
Indeed, I couldn’t see it in the morning sky when I looked last week. So tonight I picked the nearest spot I could think of beyond the nearest mountains and with a northwestern view. That put me on the Adirondack Loj Road alongside a well-known clearing, looking straight over Lake Placid. I worried about light pollution but also thought Lake Placid might make a nice backdrop. And indeed it did.
My CPC-800 telescope found it first; after an initial rough alignment on Vega and Arcturus, I entered the celestial coordinates – and there it was! Mostly a fuzzy ball with tail streaming beyond the field of view. And it was still fairly light out at 9:00 PM in the July sky and too little contrast to see by eye.
Piggybacking my camera atop the telescope yielded the first images at exposures as little as 4 seconds, and finally as the night progressed – I noticed it by naked eye! Truly a sight to see.
My first comet without a telescope! Binoculars brought out the entire wispy tail even better, but it was unmistakable even without any magnification.
So if you’re too busy to go look before it fades, start kicking yourself now. Or, you can always try again when it returns in 6000 years!