Catch This Comet in July Before It Leaves For Another 6,800 years
Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3) is one of the brightest comets in history and we’ve got a front row seat to all its glory. The comet has been on astronomers’ radar since March 27, but it wasn’t until recently that it became visible to the naked eye.
“It’s the first time in 23 years that this is possible,” said Harvard astronomer Federica Spoto to the New York Times. “You can watch it from your backyard and you don’t need a telescope.”
The only thing you need to do to catch the comet? Look up.
The comet is most visible in the northwest skies, near the Big Dipper, for an hour and a half after the sun sets. It’s as bright as any star, and you can spot it in the distance just over the horizon.
The comet will reach its apex on July 23 when it will be closest and most visible to the Earth. A good look at the comet will gift you with the sight of “stardust” and a blue ion trail.
Comet NEOWISE is believed to have originated from a solar system made up of icy debris called the Oort Cloud. Comets are pretty much just giant balls of ice. Think: a giant snowball, only its big enough to extinguish a civilization if it hits you. This comet is about 5 kilometers across, which is around the same size as the asteroid that killed all the dinosaurs. But no need to panic as it’s definitely not hitting Earth, at least this time around.
Enjoy the opportunity while you can, because the comet will most likely only be visible until mid-August. After that, it’s a 6,800 year wait for a second look.
Earth has been a mess the last few months (and years and decades and even millennia), but trust the stars to offer a bright light in these dark times.