First Newly Discovered Comet Of 2020 Is Now Visible To The Naked Eye
In what will no doubt be exciting news for skywatchers, the very first newly discovered comet of 2020 will be visible to the naked eye this week.
Known to astronomers as NEOWISE – or to give it its official name, C/2020 F3 – this comet was clocked by NASA’s NEOWISE satellite back in March, when it was making its initial approach towards our sun.
Having survived a turn around the sun, NEOWISE will reportedly reach the point in its orbit where it is closest to Earth on July 23, and it’s expected to stay visible to the naked eye throughout July.
Comet NEOWISE was seen to brighten late last week while reaching its closest approach to our sun, within Mercury’s orbit.
Those interested in all things space can observe NEOWISE climbing higher into the sky before vanishing from view once again come August. Fortunately, this comet does not pose any danger to our home planet.
Sharing a photograph of the comet for their Astronomy Picture of the Day, NASA gave a little more information about our striking, otherworldly visitor:
The interplanetary iceberg survived solar heating, so far, and is now becoming closer to the Earth as it starts its long trek back to the outer Solar System.
As Comet NEOWISE became one of the few naked-eye comets of the 21st Century, word spread quickly, and the comet has already been photographed behind many famous sites and cities around the globe.
The future brightness of Comet NEOWISE remains somewhat uncertain but the comet will likely continue to be findable not only in the early morning sky, but also next week in the early evening sky.
This month, NEOWISE should be visible to those living in the northern hemisphere, which includes amateur astronomers looking to the skies in both the UK and the US.
Plenty of people have reported observing NEOWISE with the naked eye alone, however a pair of binoculars would no doubt be beneficial for those wanting to get a clearer view.
As reported by CNN, astrophysicist Karl Battams, from the Naval Research Laboratory, has advised:
For the northern hemisphere, it’s very low to the horizon in the early morning. People need to get up early, but it’s easily visible with binoculars.
NEOWISE, which is currently moving in a westward direction from the constellation of Auriga, can be seen from mid-northern latitudes just before sunrise as well as after sunset.
By the middle of July, the comet – which has a large, distinctive tail – will have moved into Lynx and is expected to be visible all night long.
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