Chief meteorologist Brent Watts explains how to spot comet ‘NEOWISE’ in the night sky
ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The newly-discovered comet known as C/2020 NEOWISE has been an amazing sight to see for even the most amateur astronomers. The comet neared its closest approach to Earth over the past week, making it visible to early-risers. While the best viewing will still be in the mornings, the night owls will finally get a chance to spot the comet over the next week.
You’ll want to look low on the northeast horizon during the mornings starting around 3:50 a.m. with sightings possible up until around 4:30 a.m. through July 16th.
NEOWISE will be positioned so that an evening viewing will be possible starting around 10 p.m. from July 12-17, but will appear very low on the horizon at first, then gradually rising in the sky each night. The problem is, each night it will get slightly more dim. Having an unobstructed view of the northwestern sky in the evening is a must.
|DATE||MORNING (Low on NE horizon)||EVENING (low on NW horizon)|
|JULY 13||3: 52 AM - 4:36 AM||10:16 PM - 10:45 PM|
|JULY 14||3:53 AM - 4:30 AM||10:22 PM - 11:08 PM|
|JULY 15||3:57 AM - 4:23 AM||10:29 PM - 11:31 PM|
|JULY 16||4:04 AM - 4:17 AM||10:35 PM - 11:32 PM|
|JULY 17||NOT VISIBLE||10:42 PM - 12:13 AM|
Skilled observers have reported that once you spot it with binoculars you can remove them and see the comet with the unaided eye. For beginners, using binoculars is a must if you want to see this comet’s split tail. Peter Forester took this photo of the comet on July 9th. As you can see the tail is still very visible.
WILL ‘NEOWISE’ DIM?
Probably. The comet will be less than half as bright by the middle of July. “It could dim more slowly, or it could break at any time, ending the show,” says Tony Rice, astronomy and NASA ambassador. So, if you’re wanting to take part in the viewing, you’ll want to act fast.
Let us know if you spot it and please upload any photos here so we can share with our viewers. Happy comet hunting!
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