Comet NEOWISE is awesome!!!

Comet NEOWISE is awesome!!!

Comet NEOWISE has turned out to be the most charismatic comet in the last decade. Over the next few nights it’s going to get higher and higher in the sky. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you really should. It’s easily visible to the naked eye from Jackson and from most of the Northern Hemisphere by about 10pm MDT on the western horizon. Check out this link to see charts of how to find the comet in the sky tonight.

To find it, start by finding the Big Dipper. Locate the two stars on the far side of the “bucket” away from the “handle”, which are called the pointer stars. Then, draw a line from the right hand pointer star down to the horizon. Look back up from the horizon about the distance of one or two pointer fingers held as arm’s length.

You should see a faint fuzzy spot with the unaided eye. Using a pair of binoculars the long extended tail of the comet is really lovely to see. The comet is named after the NASA satellite that discovered it. Comet NEOWISE is one of the brightest comets visible from Jackson in the last decade. Enjoy!

Here are a couple pictures that we took the other night.

Astrophotography Target: The Andromeda Galaxy

We’re kicking off a fun new monthly series of blog posts here on Wyoming Stargazing. This will be a monthly challenge to hone your astrophotography skills on a different deep-space target each month.

How to Find the Andromeda Galaxy

This month’s astrophotography target is the Andromeda Galaxy. Our nearest galactic neighbor can be found by looking north-northeast toward the constellation of Cassiopeia. At this time of year, after sunset, Cassiopeia is to the east of Polaris, the north star. It makes the distinct shape of an awkward looking ‘3’. Down from Cassiopeia and more eastward is the constellation of Andromeda. Three bright stars will form her bottom leg: Almaak (the foot); Mirach in the middle; and Alpheratz at the waist. From Mirach, you can jump up to her next leg at a fainter star. Then, hop up one more yet fainter star. To the right of the last star will be the Andromeda Galaxy, appearing to the naked eye as a fuzzy blob. If you look back at Cassiopeia, you’ll see the top three stars form an arrow that point directly to the galaxy.

Use whatever means you can to try to catch a shot of it: telescopes; astrophotography trackers; even just a camera on a tripod. When you have something you’re happy with us, share it with us on Twitter or Facebook and we’ll share the entries!

The Andromeda Galaxy is our closest galactic neighbor and is 2.2 million light years away. It is bigger than our own Milky Way Galaxy and is often seen with a much smaller "companion" galaxy.