There is a rare opportunity for the next couple of weeks to see with your naked eye, the newly discovered Comet NEOWISE, something humans won’t see for another 6,800 years… Here’s what you need to know!
Astronomers are predicting that NEOWISE will deliver the best and most spectacular comet viewing since the 1997 appearance of Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. It’s already brighter than Halley’s Comet was in 1996. It’s going to be the most fantastic comet viewing that has occurred over the last quarter-century, and stargazers are already being wowed by its long tail and highly condensed core.
NASA has posted an amazing time-lapse video created from photographs showing NEOWISE rising over the Adriatic Sea. The brightness of NEOWISE it is unreal!
Being that this comet only comes around every 6,800 years, you can be one of the few humans who ever lived that witnessed Comet NEOWISE with the naked eye from Earth.
There is still plenty of time to catch a glimpse of this amazing and rare event. On 3 July NEOWISE reached its perihelion (the closest point to the Sun in its orbit), and it’s now making its way towards Earth, and will make its closest approach to our big blue planet on 22 July, when it will be 103.5 kilometers away, Space reports. From there, NEOWISE will make its slow and long journey back to the outer regions of the Solar System. Currently, NEOWISE is roughly over 100 million kilometers away from Earth.
After July 18, Comet NEOWISE will move too low to see in the pre-dawn sky. However, the good news is that it will become more prominent in the evening sky after sunset, which will probably give more people the opportunity to view this rare phenomenon. Adding to the good news, the moon goes into a waning crescent only visible in the morning sky through July 20, which will also benefit evening viewing.
As July ends and we move into August, the time for viewing with the naked eye ends, and the comet will only be visible for observers who are well-placed with small telescopes, Space reports.
Astronomers first discovered the comet, officially known as Comet C2020 F3 NEOWISE, on March twenty-seven, 2020. It was named after the NASA mission that spotted it, for the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, CBS reports.
“From its infrared signature, we can tell that it is about 5 kilometers (3 miles) across,” said Joseph Masiero from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who is the NEOWISE deputy principal investigator. “By combining the infrared data with visible-light images, we can tell that the comet’s nucleus is covered with sooty, dark particles left over from its formation near the birth of our Solar System 4.6 billion years ago.”