Odisha Scribe Captures Rare Neowise Comet Twice!

How often do you get a chance to witness a rare celestial event not once but twice? Well, Odisha based photojournalist Rakesh Roul is definitely among the most fortunate ones. He spotted and also captured the Neowise comet in his camera for two consecutive days.

“I wouldn’t call it pure luck because there was a lot of hard work involved in the process. I spotted it after waiting patiently for a week,” says Rakesh, who is a freelancer for a leading TV channel in Odisha and his works have also featured in national publications.

Neowise comet (C/2020 F3) was discovered by astronomers on March 27 using NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WIDE) telescope. Though not a ‘great comet’ which has an extremely bright and long tail, Neowise was still visible to the naked eye but looked more clear through the camera lens.

NEOWISE Comet

“I was clicking photographs randomly trying to locate the comet in the sky, when I suddenly saw an object with a tail. I focussed my camera and clicked it. On enlarging it, I knew I had captured the rare Neowise comet. But, it was important for an expert to identify. So, I sent the photograph to the deputy director of Pathani Samanta Planetarium for confirmation. My joy had no bounds when he asserted it was indeed the photograph of the Neowise comet,” he says.

Rakesh had been hunting for a ‘good spot’ ever since he read about the comet in the news. He travelled all around the city in search of a good place – from Chandrasekharpur to Khordha national highway, before selecting a location near Deras in the outskirts of Bhubaneswar.

NEOWISE Comet

“I needed a clear sky to spot the comet. But, there were a lot of disturbing factors like air and light pollution. So, I kept changing places. It was a challenging task to carry two heavy camera bags that had cameras, lenses and tripods. The kit was over 20kgs and it was difficult to carry and travel every day, but then when you have set the target, nothing should bother you,” he says.

The Jajpur-born photojournalist has a keen eye for astrophotography and wildlife and often spends hours together researching the topics.

“Both astro and wildlife photography requires a lot of patience. I have been devoting several hours a day researching about them. It came handy when I tried to capture the comet,” says Rakesh who intends to capture it till the end of July.

The Neowise comet will be visible through a small telescope or a camera in India till the end of July. It can be spotted in the North-West direction, near the Big Bear constellation.

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