Neowise Comet 2020

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by litesong, Jul 13, 2020.

  1. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Couple days ago, took the tripod mounted 20x80 binoculars to a nearby playground at 3:30AM to look for Neowise Comet. Lined up behind a basketball backboard to block the worst street light glare. Spotted Alpha & Beta Aurigae & extended a line from the stars to a really low spot on the NE horizon, but the trees were in the way. Took a few minutes & enjoyed Mars near the half moon in the south with the 20x80mm binoculars. Also, Venus showed nicely, I believe close to Aldebaran, towards the Hyades star cluster, but not actually in the cluster. Walking around the basketball court, I steadied another pair of binoculars against a basket hoop post to get a better view of the Hyades, Venus & the Pleiades..... fairly nice even in the light pollution. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw another “star” in a gap between the NE trees. Turning..... well how about that.... Comet Neowise was between the trees. I moved the 20x80 binoculars over, so I could view the comet between the trees. The comet had a tail that was about 1/4 the binocular view width. Without binoculars the tail would then be about two widths of the moon or 1+degrees in length. I tried my best to see any part of the tail longer than the said 1degree. But the morning brightening sky & light pollution washed away hope of seeing more of the tail. I observed the head of the comet. It was small & very tidy, not at all showing the shockwaves that Comet Hale-Bopp showed in the mid-1990’s. Yes, shockwaves.... because Neowise Comet was moving 50+ miles per second. But, those shockwave views had been with my big astronomical telescope. However, the 20x80’s did show a split in the tail of the comet, indicating two tails. I didn’t see any evidence of the curve that good Neowise Comet photographs are showing. Now, that Neowise is moving into the evening sky (hopefully higher in the sky), I’ll try to see more detail tonight.... hopefully.
    //////
    10PM PDT, 7-13-2020
    PS....Observed Comet Neowise with better view than morning observation, tho low near the horizon. Started with Saturn & Jupiter with the 53 power, 80mm terrestrial scope.Two Galilean moons were right & two 20 arcsecond apart moons were left, & closely aligned with Jupiter. The two close moons were 45 arc degrees to each other in their orbital planes & separating at “up to 50,000MPH”. Two equatorial Jupiter bands were nicely visible.
    The 53 power terrestrial scope is OK on Earth objects, but 900 million mile distant Saturn looked small, even tho the planet is almost 10 times Earth width AND the ring system is 21+ times Earth diameter. In essence, Saturn looked like a 5.28 inch ball with a 12 inch ring, as seen naked eye at 100 foot distance. Hey, its better than seeing the ball & ring at 1 mile distance, naked eye. Yeah, seeing Saturn is much better at 7000 feet with 300 power on a 13 inch long focal length Dobsonian with motor drive. But, the ring system was displaying well & wide.
    Comet Neowise, in the 53power spotting scope, showed its head best. Even tho the comet was traveling at 50 miles per second, I detected no evidence of shockwaves. The comet tail couldn’t be traced more than a degree, naked eye in the street glare & on the park table I was limited to. Moving the tripod-mounted 20x80mm binoculars among the park trees to help a little bit against the street & house light-pollution, I could see the comet tail better than the other morning observation. The tail stretched to almost half the binocular field, which would be about 35 arc degrees in the binoculars or about 1.5 to 2 degrees naked eye. I could see the slight curve of the tail. It’s been said the best Astro photographs show Neowise as about 6 arc degrees, naked eye.
    (Just saw a Neowise Comet photo with lots of processing & stacking, said to show tail extensions to 15arcdegrees. This photo & others show much tail details in both the individual tails.)
    Further observations, I’ll try to see Comet Neowise as soon as the sky darkens. Hopefully, catching it higher in the sky early AND as the orbit will rise, will help observations. Thirty years ago, we had a very good dark sky logging road at 1200 foot altitude, that had an excellent view to the low north, that was nothing but the North Cascades, going into Canada. But that road has been gated for decades.
    7-16-2020
    PS I...Observed Comet Neowise, Saturn & Jupiter yesterday night & the night before. Struggling against the light pollution, I have successively seen the comet tail extend. It is tough, but I’ve seen the tail as long as 2+ degrees(about 4 Earth moon diameters) AND also the 2nd much shorter tail. Could NOT see any of the rippling effect that excellent Astro images show. However, the comet head is nice in the binoculars, showing a tiny core that most photographs over-expose. I just wish if there were any shockwave effects around the coma to see, my non-astronomical optics would show them.
    In all cases, my 20x80 binoculars show the comet better than my 53 power 80mm terrestrial spotting scope. However, Jupiter & its moons are much better viewed with the scope. Hard to beat more power on objects with detail. Jupiter, as above & the last two nights, all four Galilean moons were visible.
    The night before last night was interesting, despite atmospheric turbulence.Saw all four moons as soon as I set up the 53 power scope. But, one of the moons was very very close to Jupiter AND moving toward Jupiter. In short order, that moon started “blending” with Jupiter. On occasion when the turbulence briefly subsided, I could see the moon. But, quickly the turbulence would “blend“ the moon & Jupiter. At one point, I never saw the moon again. Last night I saw all 4 moons. One moon was about 15 arcseconds from Jupiter. It was moving away from Jupiter, & I didn’t have to worry about it “blending” with the planet.
    7-18-2020
    Cloudy last night, so no Comet Neowise.
    But, tonite the clouds cleared some hours before observing time, so I got to see the comet again. Presently, the comet is about 67million miles from Earth, but only about 48million miles from the sun, so still inside the orbit of Venus. The comet should be heating pretty good. At its closest to the sun, it was inside the orbit of Mercury. That’s why there was talk that Neowise Comet might not survive.
    Observed Jupiter. Despite turbulent air, I saw Ganymede & Europa were very close to each other, I guess about 10arcseconds or a bit more. They were positioned at 45 arc degrees angle from each other & their orbits. In only about 20 or 30 minutes, they were even closer(8 arcseconds?) & vertical to their orbits. Then over 20 minutes(?), they started parting. It was sweet to see the interaction, despite the bad turbulence. On two occasions the turbulence stopped for a few seconds, the moons got steady(& brighter) & the distance between the moons seemed almost wide. Hey, I ain’t kickin’ for my $30 scope & tripod purchase.
    Anyhow, immediately thereafter, the clouds rolled in & observing came to an end. After putting scope, tripods & binoculars into the car, I looked up. In the last remaining patch of clear sky, the ISS satellite passed overhead! A good ending to a good (but short) session.
    7-19-2020
    Comet Neowise made an isosceles triangle with two brighter stars last night, Iota & Kappa Ursae Majoris (light pollution made them not so bright). Iota is about 47.3 lt-years distance, & a multiple star system. Kappa is a double star, including a debris field, discovered by infra-red telescopes. It is 358 lt-years distance.The stars & comet trio framed nicely in the 20x80 binoculars with 3.5 degree field. Actually, I think I saw the tail extensions better in a small pair of 8x42 binoculars. The sky appeared a bit washed out in the big binocs. Hey, I’ll take my 9x63mm binocs tonight. That’ll be a good complement to the big binocs. But, the coma head was much better in the 20x80’s. Again, tried to see any shockwaves, but that failed. But, I did see some unevenness in the tail, immediate to the head. At the end of my comet observations, the comet had moved, with the stars & comet forming a right triangle, instead of the isosceles triangle. Since I started watching Comet Neowise, it has moved from Auriga east northeast into Ursae Major.
    Jupiter was good again, all my nights showing the 4 Galilean moons in the 53 power, 80mm spotting scope. Two (Europa & Io?) were close & got closer until merging, over a 2.5 hour period. More often than last night, altho there was turbulence, moons showed nicely crisp. At times the gap between Europa & Io appeared large even as they got closer. I believe a sharp large telescope at high power would have showed at least some of the moons(large Callisto or Ganymede?) as disks. Unlike yesterday, the moons didn’t pass each other separately. But at 12:21AM, I could not see them as separated. With a big telescope & 300 power, they may have been resolved separately while passing, but I don’t know.
    7-20-2020
    Observed Neowise Comet again. Yes, it had moved east away from stars Iota & Kappa Ursae Majoris. The 3 points produced a long canted-over “triangle”. Was excited to use the 9x63mm binoculars as opposed to the small 8x42mm binoculars, in conjunction with the 20x80mm binoculars. Stars did appear brighter. As far as the tail of Neowise tho, I couldn’t see any further extension of the tail than with the 8x42mm binoculars the night before. I think the atmospheric conditions in the light pollution last night were a little “softer” than the night before.
    For the fifth or sixth night in a row, all 4 Galilean moons orbiting Jupiter were showing. All moons were spread around Jupiter & no close interactions occurred. Galilean moon velocities around Jupiter AND Earth moon velocity are as follows:
    Callisto, outer moon(1.17 million miles from Jupiter).....18,500 miles per hour
    Ganymede (665,000 miles from Jupiter).... 24,500 miles per hour
    Europa (417,000 miles from Jupiter).... 30,800 miles per hour
    Io (262,000 miles from Jupiter).... 38,900 miles per hour
    Earth moon(240,000 miles from Earth)..... about 2286 miles per hour
    Maximum “crossing velocity” of Io & Europa....38,900+30,800= 69,700 miles per hour
    Decades ago, I saw Io appear from behind Europa with my high power astronomical telescope. I could physically see both moons part from each other...at 69,700 MPH.
    The great Io AND Earth Moon velocity squared difference, is due to Jupiter being about 318 times more massive than Earth plus the difference of Io distance from Jupiter vs. Earth moon distance from the Earth.
    7-21-2020
    Last night, observed Comet Neowise, numerous arcdegrees almost directly south of the Big Dipper southernmost North Star pointer star. Neowise, firing out of the solar system, moves to near the distance from the sun of the orbit of Venus, after being closest to the sun, inside the orbit of Mercury. Went “cheap” last night & left the 20x80mm binoculars at home. I should have had the big binocs, I think.
    Anyhow, Saturn looked OK in the 53 power terrestrial spotting scope & Jupiter was a little better. Again, for the 7th or 8th time in a row, all four Galilean moons were showing. One on the close left of Jupiter, eventually moved further left & passed another Moon. The two moons seemed to “dawdle”, so they might have been Callisto & Ganymede. Maybe I can find out. UPDATE: The two moons were Ganymede & Io. So the slow movement of Ganymede is explained, being the 3rd most distant Galilean moon from Jupiter & slower. Io tho, orbits Jupiter faster. However, Io was fairly near its eastern elongation in relation to Jupiter. So much of the speed of Io was disguised, since its motion was much “towards the Earth” at the time.
    7-25-2020
    Been cloudy the last few days. Yeah, Washington state astronomy. Last night it clouded up, too. But, I looked out the computer room window to the south around 10PM & saw Jupiter between clouds. Hurried & quickly placed the 53 power terrestrial spotting scope in the open window, the tripod precariously perched on the frame. Quickly saw only 3 moons of Jupiter before the clouds rolled over it. Put the scope away. About 1am the next morning(early this morning), the sky was clear & Jupiter shined brightly. Tho sleepy, I set the scope up on the window sill & saw 4 moons of Jupiter. Two moons were very close on the right hand side of the planet. They were large, brighter, slower moving Ganymede & smaller, dimmer, faster moving Europa, passing south of Ganymede. The resolution of the scope & distance between the moons was good enough, the 2 moons did not merge.
    Obviously, I could not see Comet Neowise in the north. Could have even been cloudy in that direction. Most certainly, the trees blocked the view, too. I went to bed.
    7-29-2020
    Observations for the last 2 days:
    Comet Neowise in this light-polluted neighborhood is losing its visible tail as it moves passed the orbit of Venus & extends to 71 million miles from Sol. Photos still show the tail from non-light-polluted regions, tho. As it moved closest to Earth (not close tho), the comet head seems a bit larger & doesn’t have the more intense small central core appearance. Not near any bright stars, I’ll have difficulties telling it from dimmer stars with shakes hand-held binoculars, just to find it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2020
  2. litesong

    litesong litesong

    I’m going to make a separate post, just to bump this thread, letting people know that Comet Neowise & my observations of Jupiter & its moons near opposition are still on-going.
    7-29-2020
    The last 2 nights have had nice interactions between the moons. On 7-28, Europa & Ganymede moved close. At one point, I could no longer split the difference between E & G with the 20x80mm binoculars (5-6 arcseconds?), as E sizzled by G(line of sight). With the 53 power terrestrial scope, E & G remained separate altho even closer, during the whole passage. It was sweet, because the atmosphere became very steady, giving the 20x80mm binoculars & the scope the best sharpness & resolution I have ever seen from them. Despite the light-pollution, the 20x80mm binocs, gave a 3-D appearance to the moons & Jupiter, against a fair dark sky(best to be expected). I loved the viewing. Wish such atmospheric sharpness was available all the time.
    Last night’s observation, had Europa & Io racing each other toward Jupiter in their orbits. Europa came around its western elongation & started moving toward Jupiter first. Io, in a faster closer orbit around Jupiter, came to its western elongation second. But, Io, with its greater speed over a shorter distance, was able to beat Europa to Jupiter easily. Also, Callisto was at its western elongation, showing the wide 1.2 million mile orbital distance(minus Jupiter’s 45,000 mile radius) between C & J. All by itself, the Callisto-Jupiter gap was spectacular to see. Coupled with Io & Europa racing to Jupiter, it was awesome to see such activity.
    On top of all that, the wide angle 20x80mm binoculars showed a nice field of dim stars in the Jupiter region, as J wanders the sky.
    Oh, yeah. As I was starting to pack up for the night, it was nice to see Mars in the eastern sky. Since I’ve seen Mars decades ago with the big scopes, it sure wasn’t an overwhelming sight with the tiny 53 power spotter. The atmosphere in the east seemed turbulent, too. But I must say, Mars was really red last night... very nice. I’ll try to observe Mars, as Earth gets closer to Mars till October 2020 opposition, & see if I can see the Mars ice cap. Oh that’s funny. Never thought of the terrestrial spotter as Mars icecap capable. Maybe it isn’t.
    7-31-2020
    I forgot to post my observations for last night. Comet Neowise is losing its tail fast with the 20x80mm binoculars & bad light pollution here. However, there was a star pattern of slightly brighter stars near the comet than normally were in the region of the comet the past 10(?) days or so. Focusing the 20x80s as sharp as possible on one of those brighter stars & then moving the binocs to the comet really helped. The previous night I could not say I saw the very small & intense core. But last night, I saw the hazy coma around the comet plus a brighter haziness nearer the core. On occasion I did spot the intense center of Neowise.
    Jupiter observations showed 3 of the Galilean moons. Io was behind Jupiter. Waiting about 50 minutes, I kept looking intently for the apparence of Io, not only from behind Jupiter, but for its emergence from Jupiter shadow. Yes, the opposition of Jupiter ended last week & Jupiter is casting a shadow as seen(not seen?) from Earth already. I did see Io as it dipped out of the shadow in the blackness of space. & it did brighten in the matter of a small part of a minute. The little 53 power spotter is working fairly well.
    Yes, our Earth Moon takes an hour to go INTO eclipse & also come out of Earth’s shadow as the 2200 mile diameter Moon orbits at about 2000MPH. But, 2100 mile diameter Io is traveling 37,000(?) MPH. So, Io exits Jupiter’s shadow in about 1 minute. How about them facts!
    In addition, Io exited Jupiter’s shadow & within the hour, Io & Europa passed each other. It was quick with these two moons, because their crossing velocities were probably in the order of 50,000 MPH. It was SO QUICK, that incoming temporarily covering Earth clouds..... made me miss the crossing. Yeah, the Earth clouds covered Jupiter & when the clouds uncovered Jupiter, Io was 20,000(+?) miles past Europa.... & gone. Oh, well.....
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020
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  3. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    In my area , if I use my powerful binocs , I can see 17 stars.

    I vividly remember the sky at 8000 ft in Colorado. Sigh.
     
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  4. litesong

    litesong litesong

    It is often repeated that the farthest object seen astronomically with naked eyes is the Andromeda galaxy, which is 2.6 million light years distant. Andromeda is easy to see, even near towns with fair light pollution conditions. However, one fellow has reported seeing the galaxy M81 naked eye on top of 14,240(?) foot Mt. Evans in Colorado. M81 is said to be ~ 11.74 million light years distant.
    Doesn’t sound like that much difference. However, light fall-off decreases at the square of the distance. If M81 is similar to Andromeda absolute brightness, then the light fall-off would be the square of (11.74/2.6) = 20+ times light falloff. Yeah, getting above the atmosphere really helps.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2020
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  5. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Hey! Cloudy tonight, so no observing. But, following Comet Neowise on the Internet star chart, I see that it is in-line passing near Galaxy IC 3516.... oh, just a 15th Magnitude galaxy, 4000 times dimmer than the naked eye can see. However, decades ago, trying to re-define the structure of the Galaxy Local Group & its gravitational connections to the Virgo Galaxy Super-Cluster, I plotted thousands(?) of extra dim galaxies on my Sky Atlas paper charts, that already had lots of dim celestial objects. Well, I had plotted IC 3516 on the paper charts. Yeah, Comet Neowise is now passing in-line, one of the gravitational lines that my theory included.... which could include IC 3516.....Ugh!
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2020
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  6. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Last night’s Neowise viewing, with the comet at 77 million miles from the sun & about 60+ million miles from the Earth. Fortunately, the comet was still close to those brighter stars, this time on the east side of them. Those brighter stars I believe are stars in the Coma Berenices constellation, also piled in among excellent groups of galaxies, that I have observed in decades past. Needless to say, with the small spotter scope in the light pollution, there was no chance to see the galaxies. Hopefully, some good astronomical photographs will show the comet AND GALAXIES, together. Could still see the good coma around the head of the comet. On occasion, I still saw the small but intense core. Thank you brighter stars!
    Only 3 Jupiter Galilean moons were showing, Europa being behind Jupiter & in Jupiter’s shadow. Like the other night’s Io appearance, Europa brightened in black space to the side of Jupiter, as the moon exited the shadow on the left side. Also, Io was on the left side too, about 150,000 miles away. Eventually, Io & Europa would cross, but I didn’t wait 3 or 4 hours for that event. Again, it would have proved the incredible scores of thousands of MPH the moons track to move hundreds of thousands of miles in the Jupiter system. Really, really spectacular.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2020
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  7. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Has been cloudy, so no observing. For those who have access to extra power binoculars, spotting scope, or astronomical scope, all of high quality with tripods or Dobsonian supports, August 10th going into the 11th, will have the moons of Jupiter, all close to Jupiter. During the course of the night, 3 of the 4 moons will be either passing in front of or behind Jupiter, occultations, & coming out of eclipses. It’ll be a night of lots of Jupiter moon moving, dodging, hiding & razzle-dazzle. With high powered eyepieces, you may be able to see moons as round disks, moon shadows cast on the clouds of Jupiter & even have the ability to see moons against the clouds of Jupiter, even tho the contrast differences between the moons & Jupiter clouds are very low.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2020
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  8. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Great observation of Comet Neowise tonight! The other night I couldn’t find it. Only when I got home & re-examined the star charts, did I figure I was looking slightly in the wrong area. Tonight I hoped to do better. Still had a hard time. Kept widening my search pattern AND modified my directions from my star hopping. With a final widening of the search pattern to a region I hadn’t tried, & a focus sharpening of the smaller binoculars, did I catch what I thought might be the comet. If I was in a place of little light pollution, I would have readily seen it as the comet with the smaller binoculars. Star hopping carefully with the tripod-mounted 20x80mm binoculars, then I easily saw the comet. Presently, Comet Neowise is as far from Sol as the orbit radius of Earth(92 million miles) AND 92 million miles FROM the Earth. The comet coma is seen as getting smaller, BOTH because it is getting farther from the heat of the sun to melt it, & because it is farther from the Earth. I detected no evidence of the center core.
    Here is what made the comet observation Great: while observing the comet intently, a Perseid meteor flashed thru the field of view(FOV) of the 20x80mm binoculars. While observing comets, I have never seen a meteor burn through the eyepiece. I’ve seen satellites & even seen tiny meteors in the eyepiece, while observing other celestial objects, but never while observing comets. & this meteor was a strong one. Not a blinding flash like would be possible, but a strong meteor view, all the same. SWEET!!!
    Jupiter viewing was OK. Only 3 moons were visible, Europa being behind Jupiter. But, the moons that were visible seemed a trace brighter than other nights I’ve observed.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2020 at 11:15 PM

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