YOSEMITE — The comet C2020 F3 (NEOWISE) was discovered on March 27, 2020, and became the first readily visible comet to appear in the night sky of the northern hemisphere for many years. It reached its brightest near the end of July, and has been visible to the naked eye on clear nights. It’s not expected to return to pass by earth again for close to 7,000 years.
This stitched panoramic image was captured below the summit of Turtleback Dome on the west end of Yosemite Valley in a series of time exposures (up to 60 seconds each) between about 9:30 and 10:30 p.m. on July 18. The large boulder, known as a glacial erratic, appearing below the right end of the Milky Way was lit during the exposures by a headlamp.
The light streaks below the distant ridge are headlights and tail lights from vehicles moving along Highway 120 (Big Oak Flat road) and Highway 41 (Wawona Road) on the uphill side of the Wawona Tunnel. In the distance toward the east (zoom in for a closer look), you can also see the shapes of El Capitan and Half Dome, with a few lights from climbers suspended in their overnight bivouacs on the rock faces or near the summits.
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©2020 Photography by Scott Highton