Tom Dempster’s COMET NEOWISE story

January 10, 2021 — This was a fantastic story.

Fellow member Tom Dempster captured an incredible photo of Comet NEOWISE in July of 2020 during a property visit with his wife, Patti.

We wanted to share with you all.

In Tom’s words:
“I had asked Loudan if I could walk around the property at night, and he said ‘Sure, go ahead.’

Where better than the dark skies of the Sandhills of Nebraska to shoot the Milky Way and its Galactic Center?

So about 10:30 or 11:00 at night, I walked out to the Pines, my camera and tripod in hand. I spent about an hour shooting the Galactic Center.

Far off into the south southwest was a thunderstorm hundreds of miles away, just enough for lightning to drop explosions on the horizon way off into the distance.

‘Perfect. Could it be any more beautiful?’ I thought.

‘The Milky Way, the stars, Venus, and then a thunderstorm exploding into the distance?’

Finally, I was done and turned around to walk back to the Prairie Club clubhouse. ‘No,’ I thought, ‘noooooo.’

And there was NEOWISE arching above the clubhouse.

I photographed. I watched. I photographed. I watched.

And then, it faded into the horizon.

I went back to my room. My wife woke up and asked if I had got what I wanted. I was silent and could say nothing as she fell back to sleep.”

– Tom
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ABOUT NEOWISE (from Wikipedia):

NEOWISE is known for being the brightest comet in the northern hemisphere since Comet Hale–Bopp in 1997. The object was discovered by a team using the WISE space telescope under the NEOWISE program on March 27, 2020. Its closest approach to Earth occurred on July 23, 2020, at a distance of 0.69 AU (103 million km; 64 million mi), while located in the constellation of Ursa Major.

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Absolutely amazing.