Comet Neowise

In late March the NASA WISE space telescope spotted a new comet as it approached the Sun. By July the comet was on it’s way back out to the distant Solar System, but passed close enough to Earth to allow us to see it’s fabulous tail in the night sky. How good a view you got was dependent on the quality of your night sky and how much light pollution there was.

Ray Butler

This image was taken by Ray Butler in a dark sky site in Connemara. The comet is clearly visible along with a spectacular display of Noctilucent clouds.

Brian Espey

Views from light polluted areas are much less impressive. This photo from Brian Espey was taken in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains.

Albert White

And when viewed from heavily light polluted South Dublin, about 15km from the city center, the comet almost disappears in the skyglow. It was practically impossible to see with the unaided eye and only visible in the photo above thanks to a 10second exposure.

Ray Butler

Here’s another image from Ray butler from a dark sky site. This time stacking 39 photos together to produce some stunning detail in the tails of the comet.

Albert White

However a similar image from South Dublin is much less spectacular, and that was even taken with with a specialist light pollution reduction filter.

What these images show is that really is no substitute for observing the stars under really dark skies.

Promoting and preserving Ireland's Dark Skies