Local photographer captures shot of Comet NEOWISE | SierraSun.com

Local photographer captures shot of Comet NEOWISE

"Capturing the climber Julian Bennett and the amazing comet Neowise in a single photo was one of the most unique opportunities I have had as a sports and astrophotographer," said photographer Peter Day.
Courtesy of Peter Day

Comet NEOWISE has been wowing stargazers all month long, and tonight it will make its closest approach to Earth.

The comet, which has a nucleus measuring roughly 5 kilometers in diameter, according to NASA, will pass at a distance of 103 million kilometers, and can be spotted after sunset, below the Big Dipper in the northwest sky.

NEOWISE, which has dust and ion tails that stretch hundreds of thousands to millions of kilometers, was discovered on March 27, 2020, by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer spacecraft as the comet was headed toward the sun. The comet made its closest approach to the sun on July 3, before turning back toward the outer solar system.

“It’s quite rare for a comet to be bright enough that we can see it with the naked eye or even just with binoculars,” said Emily Kramer, a con-investigator of the NEOWISE satellite, during a NASA Science Live webcast. “The last time we had a comet this bright was Hale-Bopp back in 1995-1996.”

Local photographer Peter Day captured the comet earlier in the month, calling it “one of the most unique opportunities I have had as a sports and astrophotographer.”

Day said he and Julian Bennett had reached the summit of Donner Peak just before dark, but added that a thin layer of clouds was blocking their view. After an hour of waiting the sky cleared and Day got a shot of a lifetime.

NEOWISE won’t return to the inner parts of the solar system, according to NASA, for approximately 6,800 years.

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.