Science | Astronomy

Newly Discovered Comet NEOWISE Is Now Visible From Northern Hemisphere

Mayukh Bari10 July 2020 4:52PM IST
3 min read322

2020 becomes more interesting for the astronomers and star gazers. A comet is now visible to naked eyes to the residents of northern hemisphere. C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) or Comet NEOWISE is a retrograde comet with a near-parabolic orbit discovered on March 27, 2020 when it was making its initial approach towards our sun by the Near-Earth Object Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) space telescope. Comet NEOWISE passed closest to the Sun on July 3, 2020.

The comet will be less than 20 degrees from the Sun from June 11, 2020 until July 9, 2020. It will reportedly reach closest to Earth on July 23, 2020 at a distance of 0.69 AU (103 million km). It's expected to stay visible to the naked eye throughout July. NASA says,

The interplanetary iceberg survived solar heating, so far, and is now becoming closer to the Earth as it starts its long trek back to the outer Solar System.As Comet NEOWISE became one of the few naked-eye comets of the 21st Century, word spread quickly, and the comet has already been photographed behind many famous sites and cities around the globe.The future brightness of Comet NEOWISE remains somewhat uncertain but the comet will likely continue to be findable not only in the early morning sky, but also next week in the early evening sky.

This month, NEOWISE should be visible to those living in the northern hemisphere. However, this comet does not pose any danger to our home planet. NEOWISE, which is currently moving in a westward direction from the constellation of Auriga, can be seen from mid-northern latitudes just before sunrise as well as after sunset.

By the middle of July, the comet - which has a large, distinctive tail - will have moved into Lynx and is expected to be visible all night long. But sadly this visit could be the last one for the comet or for us. Its long orbit around the sun will bring it back close to Earth again after around 6800 years.