Comet Neowise has been tracing a brilliant path through the skies over Ireland in recent days, and will continue to do so for more nights to come over the rest of July.
Local photographer Felix Sproll captured the stunning pictures seen here from Mutton Island last Friday, rewarded for heading out in the wee hours with amazing pictures of the comet lit up in the skies over Galway.
“At the start it only became visible just before sunrise, but now its visible the whole night round,” Felix says.
“There’s no difference really from once it gets dark at like half 11 till it starts getting bright again.”
The pictures taken from Mutton Island include two showing the comet over the city, and another Disney perfect moment of it tracing the sky over the lighthouse.
Felix also captured the jaw dropping sight of the comet over Pine Island on Derryclare Lough in Connemara, with the Twelve Bens reaching up for it in the background, which you can see on his website at felixsproll.com. Or check him out on Instagram @felix.sproll for more incredible nature photography of Galway.
Neowise was first discovered by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer in March.
On July 3 it passed the closest point of its orbit to the sun, known as the perihelion, at just 44 million kilometres from the star, a stage that many comets do not survive, but Neowise did.
For anyone interested in doing a bit of comet watching themselves, conditions are pretty easy to see it right now he says, as long as the skies are clear.
“Keep an eye on the weather, that’s probably the main thing in Ireland. You need a clear night. If you look north, you have a good chance of seeing it.”
You don’t even have to have an expensive camera to grab yourself a picture of Neowise right now because it’s “just so bright” in the sky Felix adds.
From tonight onwards the comet will be visible in the sky over Ireland for the next fortnight.
Neowise will be closest to Earth on July 23, passing 103 million kilometres from the planet. You can see it with your naked eye, but astronomers recommend using binoculars for a really good view.
Unlike some comets such as Halley, which return on a semi-regular basis, Neowise won’t be seen again for a long time once it completes its passage in the next few weeks.
The next stage of its 6,800 year orbit will take it back out to the far edges of the solar system for a long, deep freeze before it graces our skies again millennia from now.