Comet Neowise is visible with the naked eye this month– how to spot stunning ‘shooting star’
STARGAZERS in the northern hemisphere are in for a treat this month as there’s a chance to spot Comet Neowise with the naked eye.
The comet is currently heading past Earth and is set to reach its closest point on July 23.
There’s a chance to see Neowise at the moment just before sunrise and after sunset.
The comet is heading westwards away from the bright star Capella.
Neowise was only discovered by Nasa in March.
It will come as close as 103 million km away.
The comet pictured over Northumberland in the UK[/caption]
Where will Comet #NEOWISE be in the (late!) evening sky during July? This easy to use chart will show you – basically just look for the Big Dipper/Plough and “star hop” to the comet from there. Hopefully naked eye bright but have binocs ready in case it isn’t. Chart 1 of 2 pic.twitter.com/rgYlWe0V9j
— mars_stu (@mars_stu) July 3, 2020
That’s about four times further away than the Moon is.
People have reported seeing Neowise with the naked eye but binoculars will still be very useful.
It’s visible from mid-northern latitudes, including the UK and the US.
However, once it’s flown past it will head for a loop around the Sun and isn’t thought to be coming back again for around 7,000 years.
This is the image Nasa shared as its Astronomy Picture of the Day[/caption]
Right now, Neowise is heading into the Lynx constellation and should soon be visible all night.
There are many smartphone apps that can point you in the right direction of constellations in the sky.
Neowise is low in the sky so may be obscured by trees and other objects on the horizon.
It will rise a bit higher as the month goes on.
If you’re having trouble spotting it, look for its tail of ice.
That’s millions of miles of vapour and ice burning off the comet.
What’s the difference between an asteroid, meteor and comet?
Here’s what you need to know, according to Nasa…
- Asteroid: An asteroid is a small rocky body that orbits the Sun. Most are found in the asteroid belt (between Mars and Jupiter) but they can be found anywhere (including in a path that can impact Earth)
- Meteoroid: When two asteroids hit each other, the small chunks that break off are called meteoroids
- Meteor: If a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it begins to vapourise and then becomes a meteor. On Earth, it’ll look like a streak of light in the sky, because the rock is burning up
- Meteorite: If a meteoroid doesn’t vapourise completely and survives the trip through Earth’s atmosphere, it can land on the Earth. At that point, it becomes a meteorite
- Comet: Like asteroids, a comet orbits the Sun. However rather than being made mostly of rock, a comet contains lots of ice and gas, which can result in amazing tails forming behind them (thanks to the ice and dust vapourising)
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In other space news, astronomers claim to have found a mysterious space structure spanning 1.4 billion light years across called the South Pole Wall.
Nasa has shared an image of rare ‘red sprite’ lightning that looks scarily similar to an alien invasion.
And, an ex Nasa genius is selling the ‘smell of space’ in a perfume bottle.
What would you wish for if you saw a shooting star? Let us know in the comments…
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