Flagstaff photographers, astronomers doc Neowise comet – Arizona Each day Solar

Local photographer Jeremy Perez caught the predawn rising of the Neowise comet from the San Francisco Volcanic Field, including Sunset Crater, as seen from the Schultz Fire burn scar on the east slope of the San Francisco Peaks.

Blanchard comet grand canyon

From the South Rim, Flagstaff photographer David Blanchard captured this image of the Neowise comet rising above the Grand Canyon walls. 

perez crater comet photo resized

Flagstaff photographer Jeremy Perez’s shot shows the Neowise comet framed behind the Merriam Crater.

perez comet photo Wupatki

Shot by Jeremy Perez  from alongside the Sunset Crater-Wupatki Loop Road, this image of the Neowise comet is framed amid the Wupatki Basin.


Klaus Brasch sent in this photo of Neowise from his backyard in Timberline, taken with a Canon 6D and a 135 mm telephoto lens around 8:30 p.m. earlier this week.

A streaking comes across the sky. Every predawn, earlier this month, it has flashed on the horizon. And now, it arrives around dusk, in the twilight, brightening the firmament with a spectacular blaze of light and a wondrous tail of cosmic dust.

The Neowise comet certainly has not gone unnoticed, or undocumented, in the famously dark-sky community of Flagstaff. Everyone from astronomers to professional astro-landscape photographers to avid amateurs with cameras on tripods to just regular folks with high-powered binoculars have spent much of July gazing upward at the latest comet to grace our corner of the solar system.

Until recently, you had to be an extreme early-riser to catch this dazzling diurnal display. Sightings were brightest some two hours before dawn, in the northeast sky. But, in something of a break for those not morning people, for the past week or so, Neowise has been evident to the naked eye in the early evenings in the northwest sky.

In these restrictive coronavirus times, when so many events have been canceled and entertainment options limited, the arrival of the Neowise comet amounts to the Super Bowl of stargazing. (Yes, we know it’s a comet, not a star, but you get the point.) So its appearance has spawned something of a new, social-distancing-safe hobby for folks — pointing the lens skyward and snapping away.

“People are pretty excited to realize there’s something like this occurring,” said Flagstaff’s Jeremy Perez, an avid astrophotographer (as well as storm-chasing shooter), who has been documenting the comet’s path on social media. “It’s been quite a while since we’ve had something so readily visible to the naked eye, as far as comets go, especially in the Northern Hemisphere.”

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