Comet Neowise is visible with the naked eye this weekend – how to spot stunning ‘shooting star’
STARGAZERS in the northern hemisphere are in for a treat this weekend 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 for a good Neowise sighting one hour before sunrise on the morning of July 11.
You should look slightly north east beneath and slightly to the left of 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]
That’s about four times further away than the Moon is.
The US space agency said: “Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) was discovered in late March and brightened as it reached its closest approach to the Sun, inside the orbit of Mercury, late last week.
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
“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.”
People have reported seeing Neowise with the naked eye but binoculars will still be very useful.
It’s currently said to be visible from mid-northern latitudes, including the UK and the US, just before sunrise and after sunset.
This is the image Nasa shared as its Astronomy Picture of the Day[/caption]
Right now, Neowise is moving westwards from the constellation of Auriga.
By mid-July it will have moved into Lynx and should be visible all night.
There are many smartphone apps that can point you in the right direction of constellations in the sky.
At the moment, 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)
Most read in Science
In other space news, Venus will be shining at its brightest this week.
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…
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science team? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org