Skywatchers and astronomers across the Northern Hemisphere are in for one heck of a treat over the next week.
Brian Ottum, newbie astronomer in Ann Arbor, was getting photographs of the comet NEOWISE around the previous few times.
Neowise wil be visible in both after dusk and pre-dawn skies in the Thompson and Okanagan this week. Then the comet will set about 12:43 a.m., but for those early risers (or those willing to stay up for hours), it will appear again about 2:44 a.m. Look for the frozen ball of gases, rocks and dust under the Big Dipper to the northwest.
The comet is named NEOWISE after the NASA mission that discovered it: the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE).
The Weather Network's Science Writer Scott Sutherland says the comet will become visible only at night toward the end of this month and into August and September. Lucky viewers might even catch the fainter blue ion tail, made from charged particles flying off the comet's icy nucleus. After that it will move away from the earth.
And, in case you were wondering, the comet doesn't pose any danger to the planet and will pass by harmlessly. By June 22nd, 2020 the comet had brightened to an apparent magnitude of 3, and was continuing to brighten. Scientists say that this comet is on a 6,800-year orbital period which is about the time that oars were invented and shortly before there were wheeled vehicles in Mesopotamia.
The comet is expected to make its closest approach to Earth on July 23, when it's about 64 million miles away, according to calculations by NASA JPL. Left: light reflected off of cometary dust, which generally follows the appearance to the naked eye.
"We at Space.com feel that the best time to view the comet during the evening will come during the July 14-19 time frame".
Dr Massey recommended using binoculars to see more detail of the comet's tail. "When comets get brighter it's usually because they're starting to break up and new material is being released". Comet NEOWISE will be easily visible in the evening sky, just after sunset. If you want to see the comet, you'll have to be looking in the right place, low on the horizon, depending on when you venture out.
Comets, and their tails, are comprised of dust, gas and plasma, with almost all known comets having two tails, one comprised of dust and the other comprised of ions.
These pictures were taken just a few days ago. Generally, the best viewing window begins a little after 11pm and lasts for about an hour and a half to nearly two hours. Social media users in many countries have posted images they captured of Neowise, as it lit up the sky over their heads.