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Photographer Dad, Wife, Kids Spot the Comet

By Dateline Staff on July 14, 2020 in University

This image by Wayne Tilcock first appeared Sunday (July 12) in The Davis Enterprise, where Tilcock formerly worked as a photographer for 20 years. He’s been with UC Davis since last year, working as a photographer at UC Davis Health. He took this image of Comet NEOWISE on his own time, allowed his former paper to use it — and now he’s letting us run it in Dateline, too.

Man in CA ballcap, holding camera.

He captured the image at 4:30 a.m. last Friday (July 10), from a grassy area between Schaal Aquatic Center and UC Davis Health Stadium, using his Nikon Z7 with a 200-400mm lens at 400mm, on a tripod, exposure time 8 seconds.

He shot northeast through trees and past the water tower that stands between the Dairy Barn and Dairy Road Field. There was no one around except Tilcock, save for a few people working at the Dairy Barn across La Rue Road.

Tilcock also saw the comet early Thursday, driving north from Davis with his wife, Miranda, who works at the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, and their children, Abby and Scout.

“My 9-year-old, Abby, spotted it out the car window just as we passed the golf course on Pole Line Road,” Wayne said. “I was about the same age when Halley’s Comet came by in the ’80s and my mom took me out to see it. NEOWISE is putting on a much better show and it was great to get to share a similar moment with my kids.”

See it for yourself

Comet NEOWISE has been visible to the naked eye in early mornings in the northeast sky and is now visible after sunset, too, in the northwest sky, for observers at northerly latitudes, according to EarthSky.

You can learn more from NASA experts during a broadcast of NASA Science Live starting at noon PDT Wednesday (July 15), on NASA Television and the agency’s website, along with Facebook Live, YouTube, Periscope, LinkedIn, Twitch and USTREAM.

Viewers can submit questions on Twitter using the hashtag #AskNASA or by leaving comments in the chat section of Facebook, Periscope or YouTube.

Follow Dateline UC Davis on Twitter.

About the author(s)

Dateline Staff Dave Jones, editor, can be reached at 530-752-6556 or Cody Kitaura, news and media relations specialist, can be reached at 530-752-1932 or