LOOK: One of a kind Comet Swan flies across Cederberg mountains
Local astronomer Heine Wieben Rasmussen captured a series of spectacular images of Comet Swan from the remote mountains of the Cederberg in South Africa. Rasmussen, who owns Bliss & Stars, a mindfulness and astronomy retreat, discovered Comet Swan over the weekend.
He said comets were cosmic snowballs of frozen gases, rock and dust that orbit the Sun. He said they left streaking tails of debris behind them as they travel across the sky.
He said the C/2020 F8 (SWAN) or Comet Swan, is a comet that was discovered in images taken by the SWAN camera on March 25, 2020, aboard the Solar Heliospheric Observer (SOHO) spacecraft.
"It is to be found 100 million kilometres from Earth in the constellation of Cetus and is less than 50 degrees from the Sun. In the Southern hemisphere, the comet is barely visible to the naked eye or with binoculars, from a dark site in the early morning," he said.
According to Rasmussen, the reason he was able to obtain the photographs was the darkness of the sky: “I am very fortunate to live in the Cederberg in a dark sky area, where there is very little light pollution.
“Increasing urbanisation has kept skies in the towns and cities artificially light, so few people have experienced the magic of the Milky Way crossing a star-studded sky," he revealed.
The newly discovered Comet Swan, officially known as C/2020 F8 (SWAN), was captured on telescope and camera in the Cederberg, South Africa. Picture: Heine Wieben Rasmussen.
He said looking up at the stars is a wonderful way to regain perspective.
"We have lost our connection with nature on so many levels. It is time to pause and reconnect.
"The Greeks and Romans and many other ancient cultures believed that the appearance of comets was assign of significant earthly events to come," he added.