18
JUL
2020

Clear skies for NEOWISE

Comets like NEOWISE don’t come along often, so it’s worth making the extra effort to get a better view. My views to the north are hampered by the bright city lights of York, so set off at midnight to my nearest dark sky site in the Yorkshire Wolds. The elevated view over the unpolluted skies of the North York Moors made for a perfect setting.

Details: Nikon D5500Nikon 180mm f2.8 @ 180mm/f2.8. Total of 15 minutes exposure time (30 x 30 seconds) at iso 250. Stacked with Deep Sky Stacker and tracked with AstroTrac TT320X-AG

Some nights just don’t go right with astrophotography. I’ve had my fare share of frustrating times. Pesky clouds, polar alignment nightmares and forgotten equipment have all come to haunt me at times. But last night was one of those rare occasions where everything fell exactly into place. The clouds parted as soon as I arrived, with NEOWISE shining bright to the north. I set up the tripod and astrotrac at the entrance to a farmer’s field. After no more than a minute of alignment and a couple of test shots, I settled on the best polar alignment I’ve ever managed to achieve.

I set the camera going on a sequence of 30 second exposures and sat back. With the Milky Way stretching overhead punctuated by bright Perseid meteors, and views of Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and the Milky Way core to the south it reminded me of just why I do this strange hobby. An incredibly bright fly past of the ISS topped off an unforgettable night.

Stacking the sub images it’s incredible to see how much detail is visible in the two tails of the comet. I’m not sure if the bronzy colour of the dust trail is part of it’s nature, or just a result of white balancing against the slightly blue background sky. The core of the comet is also starting to take on a noticeable green colour so familiar with other comets.

comet neowise 400mmDetails: Nikon D5500Tamron-100-400mm-f4.5-6.3 @ 400mm/f6.3. Total of 10 minutes exposure time (20 x 30 seconds) at iso 800. Stacked with Deep Sky Stacker and tracked with AstroTrac TT320X-AG

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