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Images capture brightest comet for a decade over Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 17:14 07 July 2020 | UPDATED: 11:11 08 July 2020

Comet Neowise taken near Hemblington Church at 2.30am on July 9. The comet is the brightest for many years and should be visible for a fortnight.Picture: David Bryant

Comet Neowise taken near Hemblington Church at 2.30am on July 9. The comet is the brightest for many years and should be visible for a fortnight.Picture: David Bryant

David Bryant

A dazzling comet can be seen streaking through the Norfolk night sky this month.

Comet Neowise in relation to Capella, one of the brightest stars in the sky. Picture: David BryantComet Neowise in relation to Capella, one of the brightest stars in the sky. Picture: David Bryant

Comet Neowise is bright enough to be seen with the naked eye and has already been spotted over Norfolk.

Keen astronomer David Bryant captured images of the comet near his home at Blofield Heath in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

He said: “It is bright enough to see it with the naked eye as long as you haven’t got really bad light pollution. What you have got to do is find somewhere the sky is really dark, where you have a clear northern horizon.

Comet Neowise taken on Blofield Heath in Norfolk. The comet is the brightest for many years and should be visible for a fortnight.Picture: David BryantComet Neowise taken on Blofield Heath in Norfolk. The comet is the brightest for many years and should be visible for a fortnight.Picture: David Bryant

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“I’m nearly 70 and you don’t see many of these in a lifetime. I’ve seen maybe 15 or 16 comets in total.

Everyone hopes to see a great comet but they happen about once a century. There were two in the 20th century, one of which was Halley’s comet. This isn’t a great comet but it’s not far off and will be memorable.”

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The comet was discovered in March by the Neowise space telescope and reached its perihelion - the closest point in its orbit to the sun - on July 3.

It will make its closest approach to Earth on July 23, passing at a distance of 103 million km - about 400 times further away than the moon.

The comet should be visible for a fortnight but its low altitude means it will be difficult to observe with the best time in the early hours.

The Moon, Saturn and Jupiter and also all be seen together in the night sky at the moment. Picture: David BryantThe Moon, Saturn and Jupiter and also all be seen together in the night sky at the moment. Picture: David Bryant

Mr Bryant, a former science teacher who since retiring has become the UK’s only full time professional meteorite dealer, said: “The constellation it is in at the moment rises at about 11pm and the comet follows just after midnight, close to Capella, one of the brightest stars in the sky.

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“There is actually lots to see at the moment. Jupiter and Saturn are right next to the Moon, and Mars and Venus are also visible.

“I was waiting in hope that a band of clouds would fizzle out and I was just lucky to see the comet at about 2am and get some pictures.”

“The first comet I saw was in 1957 when there were two real crackers. There have been a few since then, like Shoemaker–Levy in 1994 and Hale–Bopp in 1997, but there hasn’t been a really good one for 13 or 14 years.”


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