Local Skies Offer a Glimpse of Comet NEOWISE

If you’re interested in comet-spotting in Bedford, local astronomer Alan MacRobert posted the following message on the First Parish announcement list on Saturday morning and authorized The Bedford Citizen to share it with the community.

The entrance to Little Meadow conservation land at the end of Clark Road – Thanks to the DPW for the mown path that circles the field – Click to view a full-size image

Abby and I found the comet pretty easily just after dark, over the farmland next to Little Meadow off  Davis Road. Averted vision helped bring out more length of the tail. The view in 10×50 binoculars was fantastic!  A tiny bright head and a classic curved comet dust tail, just like the pictures. No color, no visible gas tail (which would be blue and straight).

It’s getting higher under the bowl of the Big Dipper every night. This means less horizon murk and light pollution get in the way; its greater height is offsetting its fading as it moves away from the sun day by day. Also, right now it is about as close as it will get to Earth.

So I’m revising my advice about when to look: 10:00 p.m. No need to start when twilight is still fairly bright around 9:30 and no longer do you have to seek such a low northwest horizon! At 10:00 from Bedford for the next few days, twilight is almost over and the comet is still 14 degrees or more high. That’s more than the width of your fist at arm’s length above horizontal.

Tonight (Saturday) the comet will be near a pair of 3rd- and 4th-magnitude (moderately dim) stars and the forecast for the evening is “mostly clear.”

Go for it!

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