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Comet NEOWISE: Stansted resident captures celestial object and windmill in stunning photo of night sky




A keen astronomer from Stansted captured the moment Comet NEOWISE blazed across the night sky over the village with the iconic windmill beneath it.

The superb photograph was caught on camera at around 11.30pm on Sunday (July 12) by David Taub, 48, from the edge of Forest Hall Park.

He told the Indie that he headed out with his camera and tripod to take photos of the comet, which can be seen low in the sky, towards the north. "I wanted to get a photo of it with the windmill underneath and the Stansted skyline, and took about 20 shots altogether," said David.

David Taub's photo catches the comet as it blazes a trail over the Stansted night sky (38437646)
David Taub's photo catches the comet as it blazes a trail over the Stansted night sky (38437646)

"We're heading into a new moon so we'll probably be able to see it better over the next couple of weeks. If you look towards the north, it's quite low in the sky, but you can see it with the naked eye and can use any camera, even a phone, to take a picture of it.

"I've never seen a comet before so it was quite amazing. This shot was only with a 135mm lens on a camera."

David, who lives in Reeve Road, said on Tuesday (July 14) that the comet would appear directly over the windmill in about 10 days' time. "I'll try to take some more photos then!" he added.

A screenshot of the comet's path in the nightsky (38387541)
A screenshot of the comet's path in the nightsky (38387541)

The celestial phenomenon has been spotted across the world, with images of it dazzling above Stonehenge, reflected in lakes and over cities.

Comet NEOWISE – catalogued as Comet C/2020 F3 – was discovered only on March 27 this year by a NASA space observatory 326 miles (525 km) above Earth: the Near Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, known as NEOWISE, which was launched in 2009.

According to NASA it has since been spotted by several spacecraft and astronauts on board the International Space Station.

"From its infrared signature, we can tell that it is about 5 kilometres [3 miles] across, and by combining the infrared data with visible-light images, we can tell that the comet's nucleus is covered with sooty, dark particles left over from its formation near the birth of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago," said Joseph Masiero, NEOWISE deputy principal investigator at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in southern California.

A photo of the comet taken from the International Space Station as it travels over the Mediterranean between Italy and Tunisia (38440408)
A photo of the comet taken from the International Space Station as it travels over the Mediterranean between Italy and Tunisia (38440408)

NASA describes comets as cosmic snowballs of frozen gases, rock and dust that orbit the Sun. Some comets do not survive if they get too close to the Sun, but this particular one emerged from its closest pass to our star on July 3, when it was about 26.7 million miles (43 million km) away from it.

NASA added: "The search for asteroids or comets that could potentially impact Earth expands the science of these primitive solar system bodies. In this case, Comet NEOWISE will pass by Earth at a harmless distance of 64 million miles (103 million kilometres) while giving astronomers the opportunity to learn more about its composition and structure."



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