Comet NEOWISE Over Gemini North

Comet NEOWISE — technically known as C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) — is visible in this spectacular image of the pre-dawn sky to the right (East) of the Gemini North telescope on Maunakea in Hawai‘i, one of the pair of telescopes of the international Gemini Observatory, a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab. First discovered by the NEOWISE project using the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer space telescope  in March 2020, the comet is a dirty snowball of gas, dust and ice roughly 5 km (3 miles) across. The curving golden tail of C/2020 F3 visible in this image is composed of gas and dust left behind as the comet swept through the inner Solar System. While creating a spectacle for stargazers, the comet’s passage close to the Sun will not happen again for another 6,800 years. Fortunately, there is still a chance to enjoy the show — Comet NEOWISE should be visible in the northern hemisphere’s evening sky for the rest of July.

Most of NOIRLab’s 60 telescopes are not observing right now due to COVID-19 precautions, but Gemini North was reopened 19 May 2020.

More beautiful NEOWISE shots from Joy Pollard and Jason Chu obtained on the morning of 11 July 2020 from Gemini North are available here.

Credit:

International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. Chu

About the Image

Id:iotw2029a
Type:Photographic
Release date:July 15, 2020, 8 a.m.
Size:6016 x 3384 px

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