Here’s how to spot comet NEOWISE in July before it disappears for 6,000 yrs
Comet NEOWISE will come closest to Earth on July 22 when it will be at a distance of about 103 million kilometres from our planet.Updated: Jul 10, 2020 01:48 IST
Skywatchers in the northern hemisphere are being treated to the sight of a newly-discovered comet this month which can be observed even with the naked eye by the lucky ones.
Dubbed C/2020 F3, the comet is also known as NEOWISE after being discovered by NASA’s Near Earth Asteroid Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer telescope on March 27 this year.
The comet made its closest approach to the sun on July 3, 2020, passing at about 43 million km from the sun, which is closer than the average distance between the sun and Mercury. It is now moving away from the sun’s glare, making it more visible from Earth.
Just over the weekend, astronauts Bob Behnken and his Russian colleague Ivan Vagner captured images of NEOWISE from the International Space Station and shared them on Twitter.
As of July 7, the comet was easily seen through binoculars, with some observers able to see it with unaided eyes, NASA said on its website. “Through about the middle of the month, the comet is visible around 10 degrees above the northeastern horizon (the width of your outstretched fist) in the hour before dawn. From mid-July on, it’s best viewed as an evening object, rising increasingly higher above the northwestern horizon.”
According to an article in EarthSky.org, NEOWISE will be highest in the dawn sky around July 11. However, from mid-July ( around July 12-15), the comet will become visible just after sunset, low in the northwest horizon.
NEOWISE will come closest to Earth on July 22 when it will be at a distance of about 103 million kilometres from our planet.
Well, you have three weeks to observe the NEOWISE comet. So, grab a pair of good binoculars and either get up at dawn this week or at be out at dusk later in the month.
But don’t miss this chance to view comet NEOWISE because it is now headed back toward the outer solar system.
“The comet takes about 6,800 years to make one lap around its long, stretched out orbit, so it won’t visit the inner solar system again for many thousands of years,” says NASA.