Thursday, December 7, 2023



Mendocino County residents still have a chance to look upward and admire the beauty of the NEOWISE Comet in the Northwest sector of the sky. 

NEOWISE above Calpella [Photo provided by Kenzie Kennedy]

According to Mendocino College Professor of Physics, Astronomy and Engineering Timothy W. Beck, the best time to view the comet is “an hour after sunset.” He went on to describe the peak being about an hour and a half after sunset and expects the comet to be visible about for 20 minutes. Professor Beck described the comet being located below the Big Dipper.

NASA’s infographic below demonstrates the comet’s proximity to the Big Dipper and gives a sense of where the comet will be located as the days pass.

Skychart showing the location of Comet C/2020 F3 just after sunset, July 15 through 23.
[Infographic from NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA recommends viewers use binoculars or a small telescope to get the best views of the celestial object. 

NEOWISE above Redwood Valley [Photo provided by Lisa Fetzer]

Professor Beck encourages Mendocino County residents to try and see the comet because “it is on a 6,800-year orbit of the sun so we will never see it again!”

NASA explains that the NEOWISE comet was not discovered until March 27, 2020 by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission.

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NEOWISE above Willits [Photo provided by Sabrina Knemeyer]

Professor Beck added that comet dust is the cause of regular meteor showers such as the regular meteor shower in August known as Perseids.

Please send in your pictures of NEOWISE comet to be featured on MendoFever to matthewplafever@gmail.com.

The featured image was taken by Paige Bryce above Lake Mendocino

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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