Comet Streaking Past Earth, Providing Spectacular show


It was named for the NASA mission that spotted it, for the In the vicinity of-Earth Object Vast-subject Infrared Survey Explorer.

"In its discovery images, Comet Neowise appeared as a glowing, fuzzy dot moving across the sky even when it was still pretty far away", said Amy Mainzer, Neowise principal investigator at the University of Arizona.

Comet NEOWISE is closest to the earth on July 23 when it will be about 64 million miles away.

Scientists hope to use the images to study the size of dust grains within the dust tail, as well as the rate at which the comet sheds dust.

After this encounter, astronomers expect Comet NEOWISE to bid farewell for quite some time.

The comet survived its closest approach to the sun, which is when NASA officials said it was most in danger of breaking apart from gravitational forces, last Friday. Astrophotographers have captured breathtaking images of the comet, as have astronauts aboard the Global Place Station. "In the evenings to follow, the comet will rapidly climb higher in the sky and will be visible for a longer period", he added.

If NEOWISE keeps its tail and is visible in the evening locals will be in for a treat as the waning moon will provide for even darker skies making visibility much better.

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As if a lunar eclipse and super-bright Venus weren't enough of a celestial display, a recently discovered comet has been streaming across the sky, providing yet another stargazing opportunity to close out the week.

But late sleepers will need not get anxious - the comet will start showing in the evening, just soon after sunset, setting up Saturday.

The comet, also known as C/2020 F3, was discovered in March by NASA's NEOWISE space telescope.

Want to take better photos of the night sky but don't know where to start?

Then look down towards the horizon and to the left and you should be able to see a streak - Comet NEOWISE.

If you don't catch the comet before it inevitably fades away in August or sooner, you should have to wait awhile for the next trip through the inner solar system, now estimated to happen in the year 8786.

Comet Neowise (or C/2020 F3 Neowise to give it its scientific name) is a ball of ice on a 6,000 year orbit around the sun.