Cosmic spectacle in Brunei skies

James Kon

Skygazers were treated to the spectacular sight of Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) visible in Brunei Darussalam after dusk last Saturday.

Astronomical Society of Brunei Darussalam (PABD) members took pictures of the brightest comet in decades, as it streaked across the evening sky.

The PABD stated, “The comet survived its closest encounter with the sun on July 4, 2020, in its journey through the solar system.

“The closest approach of Comet NEOWISE to Earth will happen on Thursday, July 23, at a distance of 0.69 AU, or 104 million km.

“It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime event, because the comet’s orbit takes about 7,000 years around the sun. It’s also the brightest comet since the 1997 Hale-Bopp Comet.”

Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) crosses the sky above Kuala Belait on Saturday. Inset shows a close up view of the comet. PHOTO: ABDUL WALIYUDDIN YAHYA

PABD Secretary General Hazarry bin Haji Ali Ahmad, who captured an image of the comet, shared his excitement, “I’ve witnessed seven comets above Brunei – Hale-Bopp in 1997, Holmes in 2007, Lulin in 2009, Lovejoy in 2014, Wirtenen in 2018, Swan in 2020 – but NEOWISE is by far the most beautiful, with a visible bright golden tail.”

Hazarry urged the public to catch a glimpse of the rare cosmic phenomenon which will continue to be visible for the remainder of the month, until it disappears for the next 6,000 years.

“Grab your binoculars and camera, if you have the opportunity and access to clear evening skies. This is a once-in-a-lifetime event, to see a bright comet,” he said.

“Comets are wanderers in our solar system. They are unpredictable, just like cats, so you can’t exactly know when another will visit us.

“Evenings are the best viewing times. Apart from July 23, it’s also observable from earth, during this one week or so. It will fade from our view, as it moves further and further from us in August.”

The public can share their comet photos and join the latest comet discussions via PABD’s social media.