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The bright Comet Neowise comes to an evening sky near you: How to catch it


Comet Neowise from the Czech Republic on the morning of July 6th.

Jan Tláskal / Spaceweather.com

Comet Neowise could prove to be the most photogenic ice ball in decades. After two more promising comets – Swan and atlas – Comet C / 2020 F3 (also known as Neowise) is already an avid sky watcher this year, and the best prospects may be ahead.

The comet survived its next contact with the sun on July 3 and is now on its way to the next Earth pass on July 23.

In the past few weeks, some amateur astrophotographers have shared stunning images of the comet that was taken when it appeared just above dawn before dawn.

Astronauts on the International Space Station have also discovered the comet, supported by their premium point of view and NASAs Parker Solar Probe captured the profile of Neowiseshows that it has multiple tails.

The best time to observe the comet from the surface of the earth right now is from the early morning to evening.

According to Eddie Irizarry, ambassador for the NASA solar system, it will be visible in the evening from July 15th to 16th. In the second half of July it should be a little easier to see when it is higher in the sky.

At the moment, many of those who have successfully discovered the comet advise locating it first with binoculars or a telescope in the sky. Once you’ve found it and its Split Tail trademark, you should be able to track it with the naked eye.

July 5 – my third morning in a row on which I observed the comet NEOWISE. When I held my 7×40 binoculars to my eyes to …

Posted by Fred Espenak on Sunday July 5, 2020

The comet’s next pass to Earth is July 23, which could be a particularly exciting opportunity to look at if the comet’s brightness remains where it is or even intensifies. It will also rise a little higher in the sky on July 24th and 25th if you miss the actual flyby date. Comets are notoriously moody things that can dissolve and burn out at any time, so keep your fingers crossed.

For the most optimistic of us there is a possibility that Neowise will brighten dramatically and become a so-called “large comet”, which is easily visible and spectacular to the naked eye. Although there is no strict definition of what a large comet is, it is generally agreed that we haven’t seen one since Hale-Bopp in 1997.

As soon as the comet appears in the evening sky in the middle of the month, it is visible on the northwestern and western edge of the sky.

Here you can observe the comet in the next few weeks. Online resources like TheSkyLive offer similar maps for the night sky to support your comet quest.

This Sky and Telescope diagram shows where to look for the comet Neowise in the night sky this month.

Sky and telescope

If you don’t catch the comet before it inevitably disappears in August or earlier, you will have to wait a while for its next journey through the inner solar system, which is currently expected in 8786.

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