Comet C/2020 F3 Neowise

Photos by Th.Boeckel



What a celestrial jewel!

How long did the northern hemisphere have to wait for such an event. Turning back the time, the comet Hale Bopp in 1996 was a similar event, at least in terms of brightness. However, at this time I had not captured anything photographically, because the necessary knowledge of comet photography was clearly lacking.

During my first observations on the 9th of July the initial appearance of the comet in the morning (from 02:15-03:15h MESZ, --> 4-10° degrees over horizon) was seen from the Penserjoch in South Tirol and presented Neowise in an estimated brightness of 1.3* mag, The comet resembled an almost glitter-star-like core with a very imposing pale yellow bright dust tail apprx. 15° long. Around mid-July a distinctly blue ionic tail was added to the already fanned dust tail. However, the  ionic tail was hardly visible visually. Towards the end of July the comet was still clearly visible in the evening with a visual magnitude of 3-4 mag in an altitude of 25° degrees over horizon. The core now had a distinctly green halo.

In no other comet observation were more varied accompanying phenomena shown photographically during visual visibility. From rare 'noctilucent clouds' on July 10th to the 'Airglow' (Ju
ly 18), meteors (July 13/14) joined the comet images.

Well, Comet Neowise came closest to Earth on July 23rd at about 103.5 million km (0.69AE), the comet nucleus was estimated by NASA to be about 5 km. The comet was discovered as part of the NEOWISE (Near-Earth Object Widefield Infrared Survey Explorer) space telescope on March 27, 2020


The Position from 09-07-2020. Credit to: JPL Small-Body Database Browser

Update:23.July, mag  3,0*

The comet with a green halo

Rottbach / Bayern

Comet Neowise C 2020 F3, by Th. Boeckel

21.23 UTC, Newton 900mm, f4.5 30 sec, ISO 800, Sony a7III

The comet's head is now green. This is a sign of diatomic carbon, C2, a gas which emits a verdant glow in the near-vacuum of interplanetary space. The comet's ion tail is blue. Once again, carbon is involved. One of the most abundant gases in comets is carbon monoxide (CO). When CO flows away from a comet's nucleus, it is ionized by solar UV radiation. Carbon monoxide ions (CO+) glow blue when they recapture electrons from the solar wind. The comet's dust tail is wan yellow. It is, simply, the color of sunlight reflected from comet dust.  


Update:20.July, mag 1,9*

Comet Neowise with a strong ion streamer and a dust tail with vertical bands.

The visual lenghts of the imposant dust tail is now 15-20° degrees!!!

Luener See bei Bludenz, Österreich

Comet Neowise C 2020 F3, by Th. Boeckel     

22.55 UT, 1 x 44sec, Iso 800, 140mm, Canon 70-200 USM II, Sony a7III,

Timelapse animation  5MB 

Update:18.July, mag 1,8*

The strong vertical blue ion streamer gets more visible and the dust tail shows a contrast rich fan out. As a nice beside show a greenish airglow occured during the second half of the night.

Nördlingen, Bayern

Comet Neowise C 2020 F3, by Th. Boeckel    

22.57 UT, 1 x 43sec, Iso 800, 140mm, Canon 70-200 USM II, Sony a7III,

Timelapse animation (timeline of 1:34)  15MB 

Update:14.Juli , mag 1,7*

Neowise with a strong ion tail (left) +2 meteors.  The dust tail fan out into vertical stripes.

Auerberg , Südbayern

Comet Neowise C 2020 F3, by Th. Boeckel    

Update:13.Juli, mag 1,6*

Neowise with meteor from the top of Peißenberg, South Bavaria

Comet Neowise C 2020 F3, by Th. Boeckel  Comet Neowise C 2020 F3, by Th. Boeckel

1.08 UT, Canon70-200 USMII, Sony a73, 63mm, f3.2,48s,ISO1600

Timelapse animation (timeline of 1:47h)  23MB 


Update:12.July, mag 1,5*

Neowise in clouds. Only one image in a one minute cloud gap....

Gepatsch Ferner, Austria 2750m osl. Night from the 12th to 13th.

Comet Neowise C 2020 F3, by Th. Boeckel

.. but i like it


20:30- 22:00 UTC

Neowise photo taken from Germerswang in direction Aufkirchen. Evening of the 12th of July.

Home hills of Germerswang

Timelapse animation (timeline of 0:28 min) 58 MB 

Update:10.Juli, mag 1,45*

Neowise above Noctilucent Clouds !!! Very seldom codition.

Maisach, South Bavaria

Comet Neowise C 2020 F3, by Th. Boeckel       Comet Neowise C 2020 F3, by Th. Boeckel

1.36 UT, 3.2sec, ISO 3200, Canon f3.2, 120mm


Timelapse animation (timeline of 1:12h) 20MB 

Update: 09.Juli 2020, mag 1,3*

Comet Neowise photographed from the Penser Joch (2211m with view to the Wilde Kreuzspitze (3148m belonging to the Zillertaler Alpen, Südtirol Italy

4sec, ISO 3200, Tamron f5.6, 135mm

Comet at 01:15 UT (03.15 MESZ)

Timelapse animation (timeline of 1:02h)  26MB 


1.11 UT, 4sec, ISO 3200, Tamron f5.0, 150mm (under) crop ca.3.5x, Sony a7III

Right: This contrast-enhanced photo shows the comet with a rare so-called third red one!

(red thin vertical tail trace)

The second blue ion tail is barely visible here.

After some research, the red tail appeared on other photos (e.g. APOD) too. This phenomenon indicates neutral sodium atoms which are released when the comet warms extremely up in the close range to the sun. The sodium may be electrified by the strong ultraviolet sunlight and appear red in the vacuum of space.These observations of comets or photographs are extremely rare!

During the further observations the 'second' blue ion tail becomes stronger and more clearly visible, while the red tail disappeared.

Here the discovery composite photo from 27.03.2020. Info & Image credit to

*mag  = > light magnitude: Up to mag +3 or +4 stars are visible nearby cities with the naked eye, in very dark areas the seeing limit can reach up to mag +6-7.

The more higher numerical value is given, the more weaker are the objects. E.g. - 4,7 mag, Venus glittering; - 1,0 Sirius, brightest star; + 3,5 M31 Andromeda, pale shiny oval)

All comet observations from 2001 up to now ..


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