At first glance at this photo, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it as a painting.

But the photo is very much real, and was snapped by photographer Emmanuel Paoly in the eastern French alps this week.

NASA has now featured the shot as its Astronomy Picture of the Day.

While the main feature in the photo is Comet NEOWISE, you’ll also notice silvery blue wave-like clouds.

NASA explained: “These silvery blue waves washing over a tree-lined horizon in the eastern French Alps are noctilucent clouds.

“From high in planet Earth’s mesosphere, they reflect sunlight in this predawn skyscape taken on July 8.

“This summer, the night-shining clouds are not new to the northern high-latitudes. Comet NEOWISE is though.”

Comet NEOWISE over Lebanon

The comet was discovered by NASA in March, and will be visible in night skies around the world this month.

NASA added: “It’s now emerging in morning twilight only just visible to the unaided eye from a clear location above the northeastern horizon.” 

The comet will reach its closest point to Earth on July 23, at which point it will be at a distance of 103 million kilometres, according to Paul Sutherland, author of Skymania.

NASA spots Comet NEOWISE from space station

He explained: “The comet’s track is currently carrying it between the constellations of Auriga and Gemini, so in early July you will have to look to the north-east, a little way beneath the bright star Capella, to find it.

“During the rest of July, Comet NEOWISE will head through Lynx and into Ursa Major, passing beneath the familiar asterism of seven bright stars known as the Big Dipper, or the Plough.

“This will keep it low in the sky before dawn, but it will increasingly be visible earlier in the night, in a darker sky.

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“By the third week of July, the comet will be on view all night long and stargazers will be able to view it before going to bed, rather than having to get out of their warm beds before dawn!”

While the comet is likely to be visible with the naked eye, binoculars could come in handy if you have them.

Mr Sutherland added: “Binoculars will be very helpful in finding it, even if the comet is just visible in the brightening twilight.”





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