Comet visible to eye careens near Earth this week

NASA discovered Comet NEOWISE in March, but the celestial traveller is visible to the naked eye as it careens near the Earth this week.

It is worth taking a look because the comet with soon disappear for the next 6,800 years!

To spot the comet, look below the Big Dipper in the northwest sky after sunset. Using binoculars or a small telescope is recommended to get the best view.

Each night, the comet will continue rising increasingly higher above the northwestern horizon as illustrated in this NASA graphic.

Comet Neowise is putting on a dazzling display for skywatchers, not to be seen again for another 6,800 years.

Observers in the Northern Hemisphere are hoping to catch a glimpse of Comet NEOWISE as it zips through the inner solar system before it speeds away into the depths of space.

Discovered on March 27, 2020 by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission, Comet NEOWISE is putting on a dazzling display for skywatchers before it disappears, not to be seen again for another 6,800 years. 

For those hoping to catch a glimpse of  Comet NEOWISE before it’s gone, there are several observing opportunities over the coming days when it will become increasingly visible shortly after sunset in the northwest sky.

If you’re looking at the sky without the help of observation tools, Comet NEOWISE will likely look like a fuzzy star with a bit of a tail, so using binoculars or a small telescope is recommended to get the best views of this object. 

For those hoping to see Comet Neowise for themselves, here’s what to do: 

  • Find a spot away from city lights with an unobstructed view of the sky
  • Just after sunset, look below the Big Dipper in the northwest sky
  • If you have them, bring binoculars or a small telescope to get the best views of this dazzling display

Learn more about comet science, how Comet NEOWISE was discovered, and how you can spot it in the sky in this episode of NASA Science Live:

NEOWISE is one of the brightest comets in the northern hemisphere since Comet Hale–Bopp in 1997 and was widely observed as being clearly visible with the naked eye.

Under dark skies, it might remain visible to the naked eye throughout most of July 2020.

July 23 marks the point of the comet’s closest approach to Earth.

Prior to that date, the comet will be getting closer to Earth as it moves farther away from the Sun.

As of July 18, the comet was about magnitude 3 but binoculars are probably required near urban areas to locate the comet amidst light pollution.


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