Comet Neowise visible, Won’t return for 6,500 years

Star map showing the position of Comet Neowise in mid-July and another for late July. | Courtesy Tony Berendsen

Comet Neowise, featured on the cover, was discovered in March this year by a space born observatory, WISE (Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer), as part of a NEO (Near Earth Object) project. It is the best naked eye comet in the Northern Hemisphere since Hale Bopp in 1997. The comet has an orbital period of more than 6,500 years, so now is the time to get out to see it since it won’t be back soon.

Neowise has already circled the Sun and is now heading out of the Solar System but will probably remain visible to the naked eye the rest of the month of July. The best way to see the comet is to locate it with the naked eye and then view with binoculars. A binocular view will show a long sweeping dust tail and an image through a camera can add its blue ion tail too.

The comet is visible in the NW sky under the bucket of the Big Dipper in the early evening just after the Sun sets and the sky begins to darken. Find a site with a dark unobstructed view of the NW. A star app like SkyPortal or SkySafari will help you find the comet. The comet will be dimmer at the end of the month, and there will be a bright Moon making it much more difficult to find, so I suggest getting out sooner than later. |