ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Want to see the best comet viewing in that last quarter-century, but not an early riser? You’re in luck!
If you missed Comet Neowise this past week, the best is yet to come as the comet is expected to get even brighter. So far, the viewing of the comet has been in the wee hours of the morning, before sunrise. Now the comet is making evening appearances, just after sunset.
It's difficult to predict how bright it will be, even over the coming few days. Comets can be fickle. Just go outside after sunset and look toward the northwest sky. Many astronomers say that the ideal time to look is about 80 minutes after sunset (the end of nautical twilight).
You’ll want a clear view of the low horizon, so the beach may be perfect. Try to find a dark beach because too much light will make the comet more difficult to see. You’ll also need good luck with the weather bringing relatively clear skies around your view of the comet.
Comet Neowise will become higher in the sky each day this week, making the comet easier to spot as the week goes on. Based on altitude alone, the best time for viewing will come during the July 14-19 time frame.
After about the 25th or so, the moon's light will start to be a problem as it waxes (gets more full), so get out as soon as possible to look.
The comet is about 3-miles across and is covered with sooty material dating back to the origin of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago.
The comet is expected to stay in view for at least the next 10 days. Neowise's closest approach to Earth comes on July 22 at a distance of about 64 million miles. While it may still be visible in August, you’ll have to break out binoculars or a telescope to see it.
The vast majority of comets are only visible through a telescope, so you never know when a bright naked-eye one will pass through our part of the solar system again. If you can, make the time to see this one.
If you miss viewing this particular comet, it won’t cruise back by for nearly 7,000 years.
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