When and Where to See Comet NEOWISE

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Comet NEOWISE captured from ISS; Credit: NASA

 

Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) has been visible in the early morning sky from early this month. From mid-July, the comet will be visible in the evening sky.

A Comet is a collection of rock and dust bound together with frozen ices and gases. As it approaches the sun, the frozen gas boil-off, leaving the vapourized gas and dust to spread out as a visible tail. After surviving its closest approach to the Sun on July 3rd, the Comet NEOWISE is now headed back toward the outer solar system (by late August). Skywatchers have been able to observe the comet from July 7, especially during early morning.

The comet was discovered by NASA’s NEOWISE Mission. Experts at NASA will discuss and answer public questions about the comet on NASA Science Live. This will be followed by a media teleconference on July 15th.

The NASA Science Live episode will air live at 3 PM EDT on Wednesday, July 15 on NASA Television and their official website. It will also be available on NASA’s official accounts on Facebook, YouTube, Periscope, LinkedIn, Twitch, and USTREAM. The media teleconference will follow at 4 PM.

When to watch for the Comet:

Canadians have more opportunities to see the Comet, since it will be above our horizon at all times. The Comet will become easier to spot in the evening from the second half of July. It will go higher in the horizon each night – just below the Big Dipper.

The Comet will make its closest approach to Earth on July 22 and 23, passing at 64 million miles (103 million km) from our planet.

Can you see the Comet:

Yes! Comet NEOWISE is a binocular comet. You can easily spot it using binoculars! Skilled observers can glimpse this comet as a fuzzy ball using only the unaided eye (after they first spot it using the binocular!).

NEOWISE has two distinct tails, one of gas and one of rocky dust. You will need a binocular or other optical aid if you want to see the comet’s split tail.

How to see the Comet:

Go to a place with a clear view of the northwest horizon. Until mid-July, the comet is visible around 10 degrees above the northeastern horizon in the hour before dawn. From mid-July (July 15 to 23), look Northwest just after sunset. The comet will rise increasingly higher above the horizon as days pass.

The comet is expected to be visible through next week. It may not be visible to the unaided eye by late July. So try to catch them sooner, rather than later.

 

Don’t miss this opportunity! The comet’s next appearance will be only after 6,800 years!

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