When I was a kid, I had a cheap refractor telescope and was a member of my high school astronomy club. The Netherlands is, however, one of the most light polluted countries in the world, and it is not without reason that I have a mug with this comic printed on its side:

Translation: “Fokke and Sukke had risen especially early for this. What a spectacular cloud transition!” – Source: FokSuk.nl

With not much to see at the night sky beyond only the brightest of stars and planets, I lost interest in amateur astronomy and moved on to other things. However, with clear skies and a recently discovered comet grazing by the sun, my wife and I couldn’t resist the itch. We drove to the beach and enjoyed largely clear skies. We walked from the parking lot along the beach to a point slightly beyond beach club Naturel to be as far as way from the city and beach club as we were willing to walk (we also still had to walk back to the car late at night) and settled down to look at the skies.

With the sun setting, the comet became visible to the naked eye as a faint dash across the sky. NEOWISE is visible right of the center, right above the line of clouds.

As the sun set over the horizon, the comet became visible at the night sky as a faint dot with its dust tail pointing up. You could only spot it if you knew where to look and what to look for. With the light pollution on the horizon, caused by oil rigs and ships, this did not improve much in the hours that followed. But hey, once you found it, it’s hard to loose out of sight!

Long exposure times help.

Increased exposure times and a bit of digital masking in post processing, makes the tail clearly visible.

We enjoyed our stay at the beach and the nightly stroll along the water, but we most definitely enjoyed the view. A sight not to be seen again for thousands of years in the case of Neowise. And it still itches. Perhaps I will drive up to one of our Frisian Islands (the Waddeneilanden are supposedly the darkest places in our country) and spend the night watching and photographing the night skies.

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