Finding Rare Comet NEOWISE in Philippines’ skies this July

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Comet NEOWISE
Comet Neowise has a nucleus measuring roughly 5 kilometers in diameter, and its dust and ion tails stretch hundreds of thousands to millions of kilometers while pointing away from the Sun. Photo credits to Leogiver Mañosca.

The magnificent rare Comet NEOWISE can be seen in Philippine skies this July and will be seen closest to earth’s horizon on Thursday, July 23, 2020.

The Comet NEOWISE, short for C/2020 F3 NEOWISE which appeared on the earth was called after NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) spacecraft which discovered it on March 27, 2020, as it headed towards the sun.

The icy comet was seen in various places of the country including Tarlac, Albay, Cebu, Laguna, Bataan, NCR, Pampanga, Rizal, Batangas, and Romblon.

Philippine Astronomical Society (PAS) vice president Leogiver Mañosca excited netizens when he shared images of the once-in-a-lifetime view of the celestial wonder over Romblon skies on July 20.

Using NASA’s information about the comet’s appearance, the PAS released its “Comet NEOWISE Observation Tips” in the Philippines during a live video streaming on July 16 led by Meteorologist Edmund Rosales.

Here are some basic guides for best viewing of the icy visitor:

  1. Find a spot away from city lights with a clear view of the sky
  2. May be seen with the naked eye, but bring binoculars or a small telescope for a better view
  3. Always spot the big dipper (it will appear below it)
  4. Start the viewing by 7:00 pm for eye adjustment to darkness
  5. The clearest view of the comet is at 7:15 pm
  6. Clear North Western horizon
  7. Know your geographical location.
  8. If you don’t have a compass, look for sunset direction then look 40 degrees right above

The best view of the Comet NEOWISE still depends on the weather.

“Even clear yung sky in the NW direction kung nasan yung mababang position ng comet, matatakpan pa rin sya Kung may thunderclouds,” said Rosales in the live stream.

(Even if the skies are clear in the NW direction where the comet is at the lowest position, it will still be covered by thunderclouds)

The celestial wonder is a once in a lifetime opportunity because of its long, elliptical orbit that will take another 6,800 years before it returns to the inner parts of the solar system.

Comet NEOWISE as seen from Romblon skies. Photo credits to Leogiver Mañosca.

To be able to remember the awesome event, PAS has also shared some astrophotography tips such as:

  • For smartphones, use pro-mode, set ISO at the highest (usually 3,200)
  • Increase shutter speed (better if longer than 8seconds)
  • Use tripod for stability
  • Depending on the location, adjust the settings if necessary
  • Use bracketing (less exposure and too much exposure) setting for comparison
  • Enjoy the view while it can be seen by the naked eye

“Comets are like cats: they both have tails and unpredictable. We don’t know exactly how long the comet will be intact or visible, so try it sooner than later,” NASA said on their Facebook live last July 16.

While the comet is a much-awaited event, the Southern Hemisphere cannot witness it.

On Father’s Day, June 21, 2020, a rare annular solar eclipse was also seen in the Philippines.

NASA’s #LaunchAmerica campaign for a new era of spaceflight has featured Filipino singer Reese Lansangan’s “A Song About Space”.

SHARE in the comments below your own experience of observing the Philippine skies for comets and other celestial wonders!

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Alyssa Leyda-Aldemo
Alyssa Leyda-Aldemo was a contributor in the News Letter of her former agency and is currently a content writer on her church's website and social media platform. She is now a full-time housewife who wants to re-ignite her passion for writing.