If you’re a big fan of the night sky, you may have heard about a newcomer: comet NEOWISE! The comet was discovered on March 27th of 2020 and is providing a focal point for some great pictures across the US!
The comet was named “NEOWISE” after the NASA infrared space telescope that first discovered it. The comet can be seen with the naked eye, but looks even more impressive when viewed through binoculars or a telescope. It will be closest to the Earth on July 23rd, but still 64 million miles away!
Good news, you’ve still got plenty of more chances to see the comet yourself, too. On July 14th, you can still see NEOWISE in the early morning hours and it will be low in the northeast. You should go out about two hours before sunrise to an area with little to no light pollution and a clear view to the northeast since the comet starts so low in the sky.
After the 14th, the best time to see NEOWISE is going to be in the evenings. Start looking about an hour after sunset again in an area with little to no light pollution and with a clear view to the northwest. It won’t be as easy to see with the naked eye by then, so make sure you’ve got binoculars or a telescope to see it best. It will continue to get just a bit dimmer each evening. And if you're trying to get a picture of NEOWISE, it's best to have a tripod and DSLR camera with a telephoto lens that can take time exposures several seconds long.
For some more information about the comet, check out Sky & Telescope.
Cover picture is comet NEOWISE near Duluth, MN on July 8th, 2020, taken by Bob King.