Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE: a new close-up, with dust waves expansion – 19 July 2020.

New hi-res images of comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE continue to show the amazing dust wave structures we first reported on 15 July. Imaging the comet 90 minutes apart, we recorded expansion of the shells.

Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE: a close-up - 19 July 2020.

Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE: a close-up – 19 July 2020.

As for our previous observations, we collected many (72), 4-seconds exposures, remotely taken with the “Elena” (PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E) robotic unit available at Virtual Telescope. These frames were properly aligned on the come, then averaged before applying a Larson-Sekanina gradient (up) and unsharp masking (bottom) filtering. The telescope tracked the fast apparent motion of the comet. The object was low above the NW horizon, at twilight.

The complex dust structure is still visible, showing several dust waves on the left side of the nucleus, in the direction of the Sun is. This resembles what seen in several bright comets, like comet Hale-Bopp in 1997 and comet C/2001 Q4 Neat in 2004. Using two sets of images properly spaced in time (about 90 minutes apart), we could record the expansion of these shells, as visible below. We did some calculation to evaluate the rotational period of the nucleus, sending the resulting analysis to CBAT.

Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE: dust waves expansion in about 90 minutes

Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE: dust waves expansion in about 90 minutes

Next 23 July, with the comet at its minimum distance from the Earth, we will show C/2020 F3 NEOWISE live, online!

We planned an intense coverage of this comet for the next weeks.

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