First Spotting of a Comet

Click for full-sized sketch.

July 13th, 2020, 9:40 p.m. local time

Tonight was the first time I ever saw a comet.  I missed Halley’s as a kid in 1986, due to a combination of factors – location, light pollution, and simply not having the freedom as a youth to make the needed, determined effort.  I completely missed Hale–Bopp in 1995.  That was during my college years and probably the low point for my interest in astronomy.

So tonight was special for me, like the first time I saw any of the notable objects via a telescope.  Using my binoculars on this completely clear evening, I scanned several times near the Northwest horizon.  I finally found it, already falling downward into the distant treeline.

After observing the comet for a few minutes, I immediately went inside to draw roughly what I saw.  My crude sketch is attached, but I feel it a fairly good approximation, and better than nothing, at the least.  The comet’s core was bright, yet I could only see a thin faint trail behind it.  This is in contrast to the many photographed images thus far, which show the comet’s tail as an aura starting around the comet itself.  I could not see the comet unaided.

I hope over the next few weeks to photograph the comet, clear evening skies willing.

Relevant observation and drawing info:

  • Celestron binoculars, 8×56, Fov 5.8
  • iPad Mini using Procreate and Apple Pencil
  • Color inversion in PaintShop Pro

15 thoughts on “First Spotting of a Comet

  1. I can relate to your story.
    My first comet was with a new 90mm refractor. It was Comet West, and since I had no idea it had been visible for a while it was a ‘discovery’ moment for me.
    I got to see Halley’s Comet using an Astroscan telescope from a swampy area near Lake Mary Florida. It was just me and whatever animals were making swampy noises! As the Sun rose I saw that I was waist-deep in a ground fog. Great memories.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Jupiter at Opposition, and Another Planet | Aperture Astronomy

  3. Yeah, Halley was tough. It was brightest in the morning sky, very low from my northern mid-latitude location. The best view I had was one evening, packing the car for a trip with the kids, and this thin sliver of a comet (much like the visual view of NEOWISE now) appeared in the twilight sky. Found out later Halley had flared a bit, making it easier to see that night.

    Liked by 1 person

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