Comet 2020 F3 (NEOWISE) is proving to be a smash hit, provoking an incredible level of interest as it captivates astronomers across the Northern Hemisphere, who have been crying out for a comet that’s visible to the naked-eye and also looks like a ‘proper’ comet. NEOWISE shows a stellar-like nucleus with a marvellous fan-shaped tail that most binocular viewers can trace to at least four to five degrees in length. A plethora of fantastic images are revealing a tail that extends to some 15 degrees and splits into a stunning combination of a primary dust tail contrasting nicely with a blue gas (ion) tail.
Comet 2020 F3 (NEOWISE) on 12 July 2020, showing off it superb dust and ion tails. Image: Gerald Rhemann.
The astronomical gods have smiled down upon us for sure this time, as we probably have to go back as far as iconic Hale-Bopp (1995 O1), which wowed with its brilliance in 1997, to recall a comet with such a visual presence from UK shores (2006 P1 (McNaught), ‘the great comet of 2007’, was primarily a southern hemisphere object).
Comet NEOWISE emerged in fine fettle from perihelion (closest point to the Sun) in the northern sky in ...