A dazzling comet display

Photo courtesy Lewis (Willis) Greiner

The comet Neowise photographed July 20 from El Prado.

For the last couple of weeks, amateur astronomers and stargazing fans who got up early or stayed up late had the thrill of watching the comet NEOWISE.

Lewis (Willis) Greiner of El Prado was one of those ardent galaxy watchers who spent some time carefully mounting cameras on tripods and experimenting with exposures to capture images of the speeding comet.

On July 12 at about 10 p.m. when some clouds parted, Grenier shot these photos. "Visually, you could just make out the comet's ion tail as well as a very obvious, even with the naked eye, dust tail.

"As the comet started to set, clouds also reappeared, but frankly I think I was lucky to see and photograph it at all," he wrote in an email. "One additional notation -- there was a constant barrage of satellites "flowing" through the field of view, essentially ruining many of my photographs."

How did the comet come by its name?

The comet was spotted March 27 by NASA's Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission and so was dubbed Comet NEOWISE.

Once it disappears, it will be another 6,800 years before it is visible to earthlings again, according to NASA. For a few more days, Comet NEOWISE will likely look like a fuzzy star to the naked eye, so astronomers recommend viewing it with the help of binoculars or a small telescope.

To view:

Find a spot away from city lights with an unobstructed view of the sky. (Think Slide Trail at the Río Grande Gorge.)

After sunset, look to the northwest below the Big Dipper.

Each night, the comet will appear higher above the northwestern horizon.

- Staff report

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