View Of Comet Neowise From East Sussex Beach
Sussex astronomy buffs were no-doubt thrilled by the unexpected arrival of Comet Neowise which graced our sky during mid-July 2020. The comet, which was first discovered by a NASA space telescope in March, was visible to the naked eye for a few precious nights up and down the country as it passed close to the earth on its return journey to deep space. However, the comet was only visible if you had a good, uninterrupted view of the northern night sky AND there was virtually no light pollution. This meant that Neowise was tricky to spot without binoculars unless you were a reasonable distance from towns, villages and, of course, street lights.
A tripodless, front row seat
Unfortunately, those living in towns such as Brighton, Eastbourne or Hastings, wouldn't have been able to view Neowise even with binoculars unless they were prepared to venture further afield to open farmland or a desolate Sussex beach in the middle of the night.... which is exactly what East Sussex resident Mike Pearce did.
Mike happened to hear about the comet whilst on Cooden Beach near Bexhill and decided to stay late to see if he could get a decent snap with his trusty old camera, despite not having a tripod with him. As any keen amateur photographer will know, getting a decent shot with a longer exposure and no tripod is nigh on impossible but Mike decided he'd give it a go to see what, if anything, he could capture.
Against all odds, he managed to get the gorgeous shot you see at the top of the page and was kind enough to let us use it for this post. Even though it's not the best photo of Neowise you'll ever see on the internet, it proves that even with limited equipment, you can still capture something wonderful if you're determined enough.
Fortunately, the spot that Mike picked turned out to be one of the best locations to spot Neowise in Sussex. Popular with kite and windsurfers, Cooden Beach benefits from good, all-round 360-degree views. Whilst facing south will provide you with a stunning view out to sea, facing north also offers clear, unhindered views across Cooden Beach Golf Course. With no street lights to hamper your view, this modest stretch of coastline provides the perfect opportunity for a spot of late-night stargazing.
If astronomy is your thing, it's also worth bearing in mind that the nights of the 11th to 13th August 2020 sees the peak of the annual Perseid Meteor Shower where you can see up to 100 meteors every hour if you're lucky. With this in mind, we'll certainly be filling up our coffee flasks and heading down to Cooden next month!