Fifth Night of the Comet: End of the Tail

Click for full-sized image.

July 22nd, 2020, 9:54 p.m. local time

This one was from almost a week ago now.  Comet C/2020 F3 had risen sufficiently high enough that I was able to photograph it from the relative darkness of my backyard.  If you follow The Big Dipper’s middle part of the handle straight down, you can barely see Neowise above two stars near the bottom.  This picture was taken with my iPhone and NightCap, on a tripod.

It was, sadly, the last night I was able to clearly see the tail.  As I watched it through my binoculars, I felt a sense of loss, that soon, this comet would never be seen by me or anyone else again for thousands of years, unless a means to travel the Solar System is developed before it arrives again.  To give perspective, assume very roughly that the last time this comet was in Earth’s vicinity was around 4000 B.C.  Any semblance of civilization was in Sumeria.  The great Egyptian kingdoms were still about a millennium away.  Writing had yet to be developed.  The chronology of The Bible had barely begun.  Perhaps the Sumerians or tribes of the settled world saw Neowise and took it as a great sign from their gods.

When the comet returns, millennia from now, I wonder how the inhabitants of Earth will see it.

12 thoughts on “Fifth Night of the Comet: End of the Tail

  1. Interesting comment regarding the orbital period. Such a long period!

    We should land a time capsule on it, for humanity to rediscover in the year 8720. It could include an apology for mucking up the planet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am probably butchering the model, but I recall in Neil deGrasse Tyson’s book on the Universe that statistically it’s far more likely humans are closer to their end than their beginning. Given that humans have been around in their current form around 200,000 years, there is a high probability of the end of that arc within the next several thousand years. Perhaps the comet will find an Earth much closer to its most recent second-to-last visit when it flies by again.

      Like

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