Local photographer captures NEOWISE comet | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Local photographer captures NEOWISE comet

"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 on Wednesday it made its closest approach to Earth.

The comet, which has a nucleus measuring roughly 3 miles in diameter, according to NASA, passed at a distance of 64 million miles. NEOWISE, which has dust and ion tails that stretch hundreds of thousands to millions of kilometers, was discovered March 27 by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer spacecraft as the comet was headed toward the sun. The comet, which can be spotted after sunset, below the Big Dipper in the northwest sky, 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 managed to capture 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 climber 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 for approximately 6,800 years, NASA said.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at jscacco@sierrasun.com or 530-550-2643.

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