Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE shines above the glory of Rome, with the Intl. Space Station: 7 July 2020.

Many years are gone since the last time we spotted a naked eye comet from the city of Rome. Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE was a joy to look for, an emotion to stare at, and a experience to image above the skyline of the Eternal City, at dawn. Here we share our pictures.

Comet C/2020 F3 Neowise above Rome at dawn, with the International Space Station crossing the field of view - 7 July 2020.

Comet C/2020 F3 Neowise above Rome at dawn, with the International Space Station crossing the field of view – 7 July 2020.

I have been waiting for a bright comet since 1997, when I said “Good Bye” to comet Hale-Bopp. After so many years, such a dirty snowball is back (though the legendary HB is simply a case by itself) and I wanted to capture it from Rome, the Eternal City. This also remembering that it was from this City that Seneca argued about the real nature of comets, 2000 years ago.

These past days, I have been seeing with great interest the first images of this comet, after its passage at the perihelion, amazed by its brightness and hoping it could resist long enough for me to look at it. But, as we have seen these past weeks with comets ATLAS and SWAN, these objects are largely unpredictable and once a nice comet is up there, go for it!

The weather was very good last night, so I decided it was the night. It was going to be the first imaging of this kind (mixing Rome and the skies) after the Covid-19 issue, so I was particularly happy. Of course, I did not know what to expect, so I prepared a wide set of imaging stuff, bringing with me several lenses and DSLR bodies.

I reached the imaging place, above the Janiculum Hill, facing the NE direction, where the comet was going to show. I was there well in advance, at 3.30 AM local time. I managed to set up my imaging gear, being ready in minutes. Needless to say, I started imaging minutes after the comet had technically risen and.. it was there! I could not believe it: the comet was visible in my images, while it was VERY low above the horizon.

Comet C/2020 F3 Neowise rises above Rome - 7 July 2020.

Comet C/2020 F3 Neowise rises above Rome – 7 July 2020.

At some point, I could see it by naked eye: I cannot tell you the emotion which exploded in my heart! It was 23 years younger the last time I saw a comet so easily (excluding comet C/2011 L4 Panstarrs, which was only barely visible by naked eye, but I did not see it from Rome). I almost cried.

As the Sun was ready to jump above the horizon, I planned an automatic imaging sequence, so I could keep my own eyes on the comet, too.

Comet C/2020 F3 Neowise is better and better visible as it climbs the heavens - 7 July 2020.

Comet C/2020 F3 Neowise is better and better visible as it climbs the heavens – 7 July 2020.

I knew there was a special bonus, this morning, which helped me to wake up so early: the International Space Station was going to show in the same part of the sky, so I was ready to capture this precious combo and you can see it at the beginning of this post. It comes from several images, taken back to back.

Soon, the solar light was too much and comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE started to be flooded by the morning twilight.

Comet C/2020 F3 Neowise is surrendering to the rising Sun - 7 July 2020.

Comet C/2020 F3 Neowise is surrendering to the rising Sun – 7 July 2020.

For these images, I used two Canon 5DmIV bodies, a 135mm-f/2 lens and a 70-200-f/2.8 zoom.

I hope this images will bring to you the feeling of my experience, this morning. Needless to say, I’m already planning the next view and I urge you to do the same: you never know how long a comet will keep its show on!

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