For the first time in recorded history, Comet NEOWISE is visiting the inner solar system solar system. The last time it was here, streaking through the Earth’s skies in the year 4745 BCE, in the midst of the Neolithic period.
I’ve seen a number of comets in my life — Halley, in 1986; Hale-Bopp in 1997 — and I’m excited to see NEOWISE.
Unfortunately, I have thus far had no luck.
Last night seemed like it would be promising, but there was a problem near sunset. We had a lovely sunset in central Pennsylvania.
I set up my telescope, I brought over a lawn chair to sit and wait for the sky to darken — and wait for the clouds to move off.
Unfortunately, more clouds moved in.
Very pretty, very evocative, and completely inhibiting my ability to see Comet NEOWISE.
I waited for the stars to come out. I knew to look beneath the bowl of the Big Dipper, but by the point the handle of the Big Dipper was visible the cloud cover was so thick along the horizon and the northwestern skies that the bowl of the Big Dipper was impossible to see. The Big Dipper, for the record, would have been above the warehouse on the right hand side of the photo, across Orchard Street. Comet NEOWISE, then, should have been above the building.
I waited outside a long time. Eventually, I gave up. The clouds never cleared off. If anything, they became thicker. Few stars were out last night.
I’ll try it again tonight. It’s possible that, with my eye issues, I won’t be able to see the comet unaided. But I have binoculars, I have my telescope, and at some point, I am going to see this comet before it’s gone for another 6700 years.