We have a bright comet in the dawn sky for a few days. Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE has brightened rapidly over the past few weeks, now about 1st magnitude it can just be seen against the glow of dawn.
I took along Hodepodge to serve as a tracking mount for the TV-76mm scope and a couple cameras to do some comet shooting. The Canon 6D would go with the small ‘scope, the EOS-M5 with a tripod for wide angle shots.
Driving up Waikoloa road I was troubled by a bank of clouds in the Waimea saddle, thus I elected to head for the Humuʻula saddle instead. I ended up in the lava fields along the Mauna Loa access road. The view was perfect, and I had just enough time to get the mount and camera setup as the comet rose.
I picked up the comet with binoculars, a very pretty sight as it rose in the growing glow of dawn. For a few minutes I just enjoyed the view.
The comet was just barely visible without optical aid as it is in the glow of dawn. With binoculars it is quite pretty, about 2° of tail visible straight up from the rising Sun. The scene was much the same in the TV-76mm, with some detail visible in the tail. The center of the tail seems darker, perhaps shadowed by the thick inner coma?
The morning was absolutely beautiful, even without a bright comet in the sky. The lava fields along the Mauna Loa access road are one of my favorite places on the island. After shooting the comet I drove back via the old Saddle Road hoping to find some Pueo to shoot, but did not see a single owl. I did put the drone up for a flight just after sunrise. A great morning, worth setting that alarm clock for.