It’s said that witnessing comet NEOWISE is a once in 6,800 year event, however, what does it mean if you can see it multiple times over the course of a month? Is it still “once in a…”???? Willie and I went out on multiple occasions to photograph the comet, both when it was visible at sunrise and when it was visible at sunset.
The comet NEOWISE was first discovered on March 27, 2020 by the WISE space telescope. It consists of 2 tails, one of which is blue and made of of gas and ions (called the “ion tail”) and the second, which is made up of dust (the “dust tail”). Apparently a third tail was observed, which is a sodium tail. The first 2 tails (ion and dust) are visible here.
We made a few sunset attempts to see the comet but we were flustered by smoky skies from a fire a few hours south. A few friends had taken some amazing photos from Marin and we decided we would shlep up there one evening…. but I had an idea that we might be able to see it from Windy Hill Open Space Preserve in Portola Valley, so the night before our Marin outing, we set off to see if we could skip driving 2 hours north. Sure enough we were in for a treat. At sunset the fog came in and created a beautiful foreground for witnessing the comet descend. The fog also blanketed the Bay Area, reducing some of the light pollution that would have washed out the comet. Instead we got a beautiful view of the sky. I strapped on a new 105mm f/1.4 lens so I could get the most amount of light in, and we were treated to this stunner.
This is a combination of an ~85mm foreground photo with the 105mm sky photo. Yes, this is a composite (I’m not a lier or a hider of the truth).
Nikon D850 w/Sigma 105mm f/1.4 and Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8:
Foreground: 80mm, f/8, 30 sec, ISO 400
Sky: 105mm, f/1.6, 3.0 sec, ISO 3200