HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — NEOWISE was discovered on March 27, 2020 by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission, Comet NEOWISE is putting on a dazzling display for skywatchers before it disappears. Once it does, it will not be seen for another 6,800 years.
Here are some basic viewing tips:
- Find a spot away from city lights with an unobstructed view of the sky
- Just after sunset, look below the Big Dipper in the northwest sky
- If you have them, bring binoculars or a small telescope to get the best views of this dazzling display. These are essential!
There are several observing opportunities over the coming days when it will become increasingly visible shortly after sunset in the northwest sky. If you’re looking at the sky without the help of observation tools, Comet NEOWISE will likely look like a fuzzy star with a bit of a tail, so using binoculars or a small telescope is recommended to get the best views of this object.
Comets are actually pretty cool and complex things. They have several different elements that make up the overall comet.
The Nucleus: Essentially a mass of ice and frozen gas. It can be 0.6 - 6.0 miles in diameter.
The Hydrogen Cloud: surrounds the coma and the comet nucleus. It can be 2 million miles across.
The Coma: A cloud of gases that surrounds a comet.
The comet Tail: When a comet gets closer to the sun it melts some of the nucleus, and solar wind pushes that melted material away from the comet.
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