NEOWISE Comet observations from Quetta, Pakistan

The comet NEOWISE was discovered by orbiting telescope WISE. It was discovered in March 2020 and now was closing up to become visible.

NEOWISE Comet observations from Quetta, Pakistan

C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) or Comet NEOWISE is a long period comet with a near-parabolic orbit discovered by astronomers on March 27, 2020, during the NEOWISE mission of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). It was an 18th-magnitude object at the time, located 2 AU (300 million km; 190 million mi) from the Sun and 1.7 AU (250 million km; 160 million mi) from Earth.

As always, internet was buzzing with the news of a new comet which had become visible with naked eye while a telescope was even better option. The comet NEOWISE was discovered by orbiting telescope WISE (wide field infrared survey explorer). It was discovered in March 2020 and now was closing up to become visible.

My search for comet NEOWISE

As always I was keeping eye on it as I used to do with all astronomical phenomenon. But in fact, I started watching for this comet a little late. Maybe it was visible since early days of July 2020, but I took my 10×50 binoculars out on 10 July 2020.

It was about 4:40 am when I was searching for this comet and suddenly caught its spectacular view. An easily visible head and a fuzzy tail were apparent in binoculars. I rushed in and brought my Casio camera, which was not mounted on a stand. Immediately I mounted it and arranged things (it works on power adapter as I am not using rechargeable cells for it).

Photographs of Comet NEOWISE on 10 July

After a long time, I was photographing a comet. I don’t remember now when the last time I saw and photographed a comet was. As time was running out and dawn was near, I took some images without going into details of camera settings. I captured the comet in these images.

NEOWISE Comet observations from Quetta, Pakistan

Photographs of Comet NEOWISE on 11 July

The next day I was well-prepared to photograph the comet. Camera settings were fine, and I was waiting for comet after namaz. From my home it was just above those trees which were towards FG public school. I took many images and also observed it with binoculars. Here are few images, remaining in hard disk. My observation time was from 4:40 am to 5:00 am, after which sunlight hid the comet.  

NEOWISE Comet observations from Quetta, Pakistan

The comet appeared better due to better camera settings, and also its tail appeared fine. As always, the tail points away from the sun due to solar wind. This was also the first time my wife saw any comet directly with binoculars.

Photographs of Comet NEOWISE on 12 July

The next day, I photographed comet again with even better camera settings. It was little low on horizon and also moved leftwards (north wards).

NEOWISE Comet observations from Quetta, Pakistan

Next days

Next day sky was not clear and haze was spreading. I was not able to see the comet with binoculars, and also didn’t take the camera outside. In coming days, the comet was too low on the horizon and was not visible.

Comet on Evening sky

There were news on internet that comet still can be seen on evening sky. I tried once and then another day but couldn’t find it. Still, the news that comet is still visible with naked eye in perfect conditions and with binoculars in normal conditions were coming on internet.

I searched again for comet. I took help from online sky map to find the comet’s current position and then went out with my old 10×50 binoculars. It was 22nd July evening around 8:15 PM when I spotted a comet in Ursa Major. Yes, it was easily visible through telescope. I took camera and took few images where it is stored on hard disk. Here are a few of them.

Photographs of Comet NEOWISE on 22 July

Using same old camera Casio I took few images. The comet was not as bright as it was on 12 July, but its head was still big and easily visible.

The green color of the comet was easily visible, but its tail was not as dense as before.

NEOWISE Comet observations from Quetta, Pakistan

Photographs of Comet NEOWISE on 23 July

Today conditions of the sky were better, and I photographed the comet with much joy. Few images are here.

NEOWISE Comet observations from Quetta, Pakistan

Again green color was easily visible, and the tail was too, though it was dim.

Estimate of comet’s magnitude

According to the website I used for searching the comet, its magnitude was 7.0, but it was apparent from nearby stars in comparison that the comet was brighter than this. According to the free software stellarium the nearby stars of constellation Ursa Major were having the following magnitudes, and we can compare these with brightness of comet.

Comet image enhancement using image stacking technique

We can enhance the quality of image by overlapping few images of some object. I used this technique using online image processing software, I stacked a few images of the comet from the set of 12 July observations and also from 23 July. Here are results.

 (23 July 8 images overlay)

 (12 July 7 images overlay)

This method enhances details of the image.

Change in color

From 11 and 12 July observations, the comet had changed its color to green. This was astounding. Either comet has started some chemical reactions lately, or may be a few underlying chemicals are now being released.

Cloudy weather 24, 25 July

During these days there were clouds on the sky, and I wasn’t able to locate the comet via camera. But I used my 10×50 binoculars and saw comet. It appeared as bright as it was on 23rd July. It was easy to locate and observe.

Photographs of Comet NEOWISE on 26 July

 On 26th July it was still not clear weather to observe the comet, but I used 10×50 binoculars to observe the comet and was easy to locate. I used a Casio camera too, but aiming was not perfect due to clouds. I still managed to get one or two images of the comet. It appeared that greenish color of comet has become more prominent.

Photographs of Comet NEOWISE on 27 July

It was hazy and dusty. I took few images and the comet was barely visible.

Photographs of Comet NEOWISE on 28 July

Today the sky was clear, and I was able to take many images. The comet was beautifully apparent in all images. Little hit of tail was also visible in images. I also took a few images by placing the Casio camera behind 10×50 binoculars. The comet was also visible in those images. Comet’s green color was visible in all images.

After 28th July till 3 Aug

During these entire days, the comet was not visible due to haze and dust on the sky. Also, comet is becoming dim every day. I think it is still within binoculars and camera range if the sky gets clear. I will try again to photograph the comet so that I can keep complete record of it.