Comet NEOWISE lights up Stittsville’s nighttime sky

(Astronauts on the International Space Station captured this shot of Comet NEOWISE as it hurled through the sky. Photo: NASA)

Comet Neowise is paying a visit to the inner solar system for the first time in 6,800 years. The comet Neowise has been getting brighter and brighter in the early morning sky and since this past Monday evening, has appeared in Ottawa’s evening sky after sunset. It’s actually the brightest comet in 23 years — since Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997, according to NASA.

Neowise is one of the few comets visible to the unaided eye this century, an inner-solar system ‘intruder’ that might become known as the Great Comet of 2020“, NASA said.

Most comets are not seen with the naked eye, but Neowise is clearly visible for those looking to the northwestern sky and it will appear to zoom just below the Big Dipper. To reveal more details, a simple telescope or pair of binoculars can be used for viewing. The best dates to sight the comet will occur through the July 14-19 time frame during the evening. NASA reported that the comet will be closest to Earth on July 22, 2020 and also revealed that the comet will be visible through mid-August.

To see the comet, start looking about one hour after sunset, when you’ll find it just over the northwest horizon as the last of twilight fades into darkness, according to Sky & Telescope. Look about three fists below the “bowl” of the Big Dipper, which is hanging by its handle high above, and perhaps a little to the right, the website said.

(Another captured shot of NEOWISE. Photo: NASA)

Recently, the comet survived a close approach to the sun and is now headed back to the outer solar system. Neowise is considered to be a fairly large comet and measures about three miles across. It’s brilliance and size provides a breathtaking view for skywatchers.

A NASA space telescope known as NEOWISE first spotted the icy rock, officially called C/2020 F3, on March 27, 2020.

“Should you have the chance, be sure to take a look at this celestial visitor over the next few weeks. It won’t be back in our neighborhood for thousands of years, as it takes some 6,800 years to complete its journey around the sun”, NASA said.


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