Thanks to COVID-19, you might not get to take your children to the planetarium anytime soon. But if they’re into astronomy, you are in luck, since we should be able to see a comet beginning tonight. Known as Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) for science reasons, it has been visible at sunrise a few times this month, but will probably be making the change to dusk this week. Here is the way to view it.
Based on Earth Sky, starting around July 12-15 (so, today), the comet will become visible at dusk (just after sunset). It will be low in the northwest horizon. If the comet remains somewhat glowing, we might have the ability to see it during day dusk towards the end of the month, also will appear a little higher in the sky.
Use binoculars for a better shot at seeing itthough some people have reported that after you spot the comet with binoculars, you might be able to see it when you know where to look. However if you want to find the split tail of the comet, binoculars are your very best bet.
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So how large is this comet? “From its infrared touch, we could tell (its own nucleus) is about 5 km [3 miles] across… and is covered with sooty, dim particles left over from its formation close to the birth of our solar system 4.6 billion years back,” Joseph Masiero, NEOWISE deputy principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory told Earth Sky.
But that is not it! The comet will be closest to Earth on July 22-23. Here’s what Earth Sky says about that:
It will pass at some 64 million miles (103 million km) from our planet. The fantastic news is that–when the comet continues looking great–the opinion during the night of closest approach ought to be nice. Although binoculars may be required for the celestial visitor, it will be visible in the exact same time we see a beautiful crescent (not too bright) moon.
If you’re interested in visiting NEOWISE, this month is the best chance: the next time this comet May Be visible again from Earth will be arou