Comet Neowise's 'Prime-Time' Viewing in the Sky This Week


NASA says Neowise will become increasingly visible shortly after sunset in the northwest sky.

Mark McCaughrean recorded this time-lapse video showing the comet's tail streaming behind it while the sound of frogs is heard in the background. Based on the infrared signature, NASA has been able to tell that Comet NEOWISE is about 3 miles wide and is most likely leftover from the start of our solar system 4 billion years ago.

NASA has shared a couple of helpful tips on how to spot the visible comet known as NEOWISE in the sky. I could juuuust make out the slice of the comet's tail against the brightening dawn sky last Saturday morning: binoculars made the comet jump out in contrast, reminiscent of Comet C/2011 L4 PanSTARRS at dusk back in 2013. The comet then gradually sits lower in the sky over the course of about one-half hour before disappearing below the horizon. For instance, Neowise has been confirmed to be brighter than P/2011 (PANSTARRS), but not as bright as Comet Hale-Bopp. He said the photos were taken using long exposures and star tracking, which he was able to do with a special tracking mount that compensates for the motion of the Earth and prevents "star trails" in these types of photos of the night sky.

Here's how they propose we perspective NEOWISE. About an hour after sunset, look northwest just below the Big Dipper, this is the current location of the comet.

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The sweeping tail of Comet F3 NEOWISE. The comet is named after the space observatory that actually discovered it. It's sort of romantic, like something our ancestors did looking up at the sky.

"Although binoculars are required for the celestial visitor, it will be visible at the same time we see a handsome Crescent (not too bright) Moon". Mathew Browne has a photo-tutorial on PetaPixel on how to shoot the comet with your tripod-mounted DSLR and get incredible results.

In case you were wondering, the next Hailey's Comet won't appear until July 28, 2061, so keep your eyes peeled for NEOWISE! The temperatures were so high that they sparked eruptions in the gas and dust of the comet's surface, causing a long streaking trail. Comets like NEOWISE are leftovers from the creation of our solar system.

Enjoy these wonderful images, and get out there and enjoy F3 NEOWISE, while it's still bright.