By David Fleet
Brandon Twp.-It’s been 6,800 years since Comet Neowise paid a visit to the inner solar system.
The comet finally returned at about 10:15 p.m., July 25 and township resident Heath Zietz was waiting near Cook’s Farm Dairy, 2950 Seymour Lake Road for a picture.
“All I really know about the comet is it only comes around every few thousand years and it is not going to be visible for much longer,” said Zietz. “Right now in our area we need binoculars to see the comet, because of the light pollution. It was brighter earlier in July, but it was also too low so it was block by the tree line. The best time to see the comet is after the sun sets about 10 p.m. looking Northwest slightly left of the big dipper, by 11:45 p.m. the comet is no longer visible.”
According to Earth, CBS News reports, the comet survived its recent closest approach to the sun, and is now headed back toward the outer solar system. Measuring about 3 miles across, Neowise is considered a fairly large comet – providing skywatchers with a spectacular view from Earth
Dustin Scriven, is a 2011 Brandon High School graduate and earned a bachelor of science in astrophysics from MSU and is currently work ing on a doctorate degree in physics at Texas A & M.
“Comets like a large rock comprised of dirt, water, ice, and carbon dioxide,” said Scriven. “It’s like a big dirty sludge ball. When the comet is travelling through space it’s very cold and stays frozen. However, as it goes through space as comes closer to the sun, the radiations heats the comet causing the carbon and ice melt creating a liquid, it will sublime like dry ice to a gas. That’s the tail of the comet. That bright tail is what is so unique about Neowise. Many comets come through but not so intense and Neowise is very big in the sky. They last grand comet we had was Halley’s Comet.”
Zietz said using a camera works well to see the comet, because you can set your shutter speed slower, 20-30 seconds to gather more light. “When looking with binoculars the comet will look more like a fuzzy star, but a camera image will help see the tail,” he said.
“I was actually concerned that the yard lights would cause too much light pollution and wash out the image, but they actually created a very cool lighting effect on the silos,” he added.