A Glimpse of Comet Neowise C/2020 F3
Like many folks, we attempted to go and see Comet Neowise on its once every 6700 year fly by of Earth. Last Friday evening we drove out towards Waller and Hempstead and parked ourselves on the side of a narrow road adjacent to some cattle pastures. As dusk set in we listened to the coyotes come out as the cows mooed in the distance. It was a rather clear evening with some haze on the horizon to the west but most of the clouds dissipated as time went on. We stared at the sky from the back of the truck and saw nothing but stars. The Big Dipper came out and we knew to look down from there but still, nothing. Chris called a friend who had seen it from his home down near Shiner and Sweet Home (much darker out that way) and got a few tips. After adjusting where we were looking we sat out there for a while longer and finally gave up. We determined there was too much haze and we couldn’t see it.
Saturday evening proved to have too many clouds to the west so we didn’t bother going out but then Sunday Chris said someone had mentioned being able to see it from a quarter mile away at the city park! I was surprised to hear this but we gave it a go last night. A few other folks were there so we socially distanced and kept masks tucked away in case things got busier. The person who had seen it the night before was out and gave us the direction he had seen it. Dusk finally fell and we kept our eyes out but nothing was visible. And then the person who had spotted the night before said he found it. Chris looked through his binoculars and found it as well! We are much closer to light pollution than where we had been on Friday night so it was very difficult to see it without an aid but once you knew where to look you could faintly see it. Trying to set my camera up to see it was another story! I could see a couple of stars that were near it so I looked for those and then had to play around with the manual focus before I got it configured enough to take a variety of shots at different shutter speeds and f-stops. They aren’t Nat Geo worthy but they are a cool memento for a once in a six millennia occurrence!
That said, after we saw it from basically around the block from our house we were kicking ourselves for not seeing it on Friday night, a much clearer and scenic evening! My parents attempted to see it from suburban Fort Worth on Friday night and didn’t get a look and then tried again out in Decatur but didn’t see it. At this point unless you have binoculars it would be difficult to spot—but give it a whirl! It is worth the sight before it fades from view!
That’s great! There haven’t been any good viewing opportunities around here, and I think we’re going to be doomed by the tropical systems that are dumping rain. We got four inches last night, along with terrific lightning and thunder, and it seems as though it’s going to continue through the weekend. We’ll see. Maybe the weathermen will be wrong, again — to our benefit!