How to see Comet Neowise

A summer treat for stargazers, this comet was just discovered

How to see Comet Neowise
Picture from Astronomer Kenneth Wilson (Source: Kenneth D Wilson)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Comet Neowise, which was just discovered back in March of this year is putting on a show.

It’s time now to look at the end of evening twilight, low in the NNW sky! Here’s where to look, courtesy of Sky and Telescope Magazine. Keep in mind it’s NOT easy to find with the naked eye unless you are away from light pollution. We recommend you try to find it with your naked eye, then get a close up view with binoculars or a small telescope.

This chart shows the appearance of Comet NEOWISE on the evenings of July 14–23.
This chart shows the appearance of Comet NEOWISE on the evenings of July 14–23. (Source: Sky and Telescope)

Although you can see it with the naked eye if you get lucky, your best bet is with binoculars.

You’ll need a clear view of the horizon. A field or area with no trees is typically best. Even though the comet is racing through space as it orbits the sun, it will appear stationary to the amateur stargazer. It won’t streak across the sky like a meteor.

Local photographer, Dr. Chris Johnson, was able to capture this picture of Comet NEOWISE over the James River Park System’s Pony Pasture on July 15th around 9:30 pm. Johnson says the Comet was not extremely visible to the human eye.

Though not visible to the human eye, Johnson was able to capture the moment late last night.
Though not visible to the human eye, Johnson was able to capture the moment late last night. (Source: Dr. Chris Johnson)

Comets are sometimes called “dirty snowballs.” When they get close to the sun, they form tails, like the one you can see in Ken Wilson’s picture. The tail points away from the sun, as it is made up of ions carried away from the comet by the solar wind.

Good Luck!

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