, the most impressive comet in almost 25 years, is now visible. After two other promising comets – – fizzled and faded away earlier this year, Comet C / 2020 F3 (aka Neowise) and the best prospects may come.
Emily Kramer, a co-scientist on NASA’s Neowise spacecraft research team that discovered the comet, told reporters Wednesday that a comet is rare enough to be visible to the naked eye.
“It’s been a while,” she said. “The last time was 1995-1996 (with comet Hale-Bopp).”
Neowise survived his nearest brush with the sun on July 3 and is now on his way to his nearest pass to Earth on July 23.
In recent weeks, a number of amateur astrophotographers have shared amazing images of the comet captured as it appeared just above the horizon in the sky.
, using their premium vantage point, and NASA’s , shows that it has several tails.
The best time to see the comet from the Earth’s surface is currently changing from the early morning hours to the evening.
According to NASA’s solar system ambassador Eddie Irizarry, it will be visible in the evening around July 15-16. It should be a little easier to see in the second half of July when it is higher in the sky.
Right now, the advice shared by many of those who have successfully discovered the comet is to first find it in the sky with binoculars or telescopes. Once you have found it and its brand shared tail, you should be able to track it with the naked eye.
The comet’s closest passage of the earth is on July 23, which can provide a particularly exciting viewing opportunity if the comet’s brightness continues to stay where it is or even intensifies. It will also rise a little higher in the sky on July 24 and 25 if you miss the actual flyby date. Comets are notoriously clever things that can always break open and burn out at any time, so fingers crossed.
For the most optimistic of us, there is a possibility that Neowise shines dramatically to become a so-called “big comet” that is easily visible and spectacular to see with the naked eye. Although there is no strict definition of what a large comet is, it is generally agreed that we have not seen one since Hale-Bopp.
When it appears in the evening sky in the middle of the month, the comet will be visible towards the northwestern and western edges of the sky.
Here you can see the comet in the coming weeks. Online resources like TheSkyLive also offer similar night sky maps to help your comet hunt.
If you do not catch the comet before it inevitably disappears in August or before, you will have to wait a while for the next trip through the inner solar system, which is currently estimated to happen in 8786.