A comet, an aurora, and the king of planets

Last night was nice and clear, so I grabbed my gear and drove about ten min­utes west of town, hop­ing to catch Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE).

It was about 10:30 when I got to my spot, and the sun­set was still too bright to see the comet. I noticed Jupiter on the oth­er side of the sky, so I snapped a cou­ple shots of it first. I’m not 100% sure, but I think I got all four Galilean moons in the shot, too.

Jupiter and its four largest moons
Jupiter, and—very faintly—Io, Cal­lista, Europa, and Ganymede
5 sec, f/1.8, ISO 100, 50mm

Then the sun set enough, and I swung back around to face north­west.

The comet above a bluff of trees
5 sec, f/1.8, ISO 100, 50mm

As I was get­ting ready to pack up, I noticed a hazi­ness to the north­east­ern sky. I knew thanks to SpaceWeather.com that a coro­nal mass ejec­tion had just arrived, trig­ger­ing some auro­ra. So I put my widest lens on my cam­era and snapped a few more shots.

Comet + aurora
Comet NEOWISE and some auro­ra bore­alis
30 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800, 11mm

All in all, a good night. I even got to wave at the Inter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion as it went by.

Jupiter’s Birth


Well, this is pret­ty cool:

Thanks to exten­sive com­put­er sim­u­la­tions, the researchers have cal­cu­lat­ed that the cur­rent asym­me­try [in the counts of Tro­jan aster­oids] could only have occurred if Jupiter was formed four times fur­ther out in the solar sys­tem and sub­se­quent­ly migrat­ed to its cur­rent posi­tion. Dur­ing its jour­ney towards the sun, Jupiter’s own grav­i­ty then drew in more Tro­jans in front of it than behind it.

Jupiter’s unknown jour­ney revealed

Image cred­it: NASA/J­PL-Cal­tech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill