How to Spot Comet NEOWISE in Mid-August Before it Vanishes

Comet NEOWISE has been a sparkling sight in the night skies for over a month now. The icy intruder from the outer Solar System passes closest to Earth on July 23 — 64.4 million miles away. It will be visible until mid-August before it vanishes for about 6,800 years.

Slow Exposure Comet NEOWISE shot
How to Spot Comet NEOWISE in Mid-August Before it Vanishes

What to Know About Comet NEOWISE

The comet is named for the space telescope used to discover it in late March. Its full name official moniker is C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE).

What’s interesting about NEOWISE is that most comments don’t survive the heat of a close approach to the Sun. Most are made up of rock, dust, gases, and ice, which is a combination that doesn’t always hold together in extreme temperatures. However, NEOWISE seems to be a survivor, emerging from its encounter with the sun spotting a long tail of gas and dust.

How to Find Comet NEOWISE

The NEOWISE comet can be seen above the western horizon around 90 minutes after sunset. Since it’s not as close to Earth as it used to be in July, taking binoculars is a good idea, although it still can be seen with the naked eye.

Sky Map - Big Dipper, Arcturus, NoewiseHow to Spot Comet NEOWISE in Mid-August Before it Vanishes

Use the “Big Dipper” and the Bright Star, Arcturus

Once you spot the Big Dipper, follow the arc of its handle to the western horizon. If you look on the left, you’ll come across a bright reddish star — Arcturus. The comet is between Arcturus and the western horizon.

The comet’s exact location varies by the day, but if you focus your eyes somewhere in the circled area, you should be fine.

Mountain landscape, night sky, comet Neowise passingHow to Spot Comet NEOWISE in Mid-August Before it Vanishes

Pro tip: Make sure you have enough time to adapt your eyes in the dark. Not looking at your phone, flashlights, and other lights are also recommended.

Dark-adaptation requires some patience, but it’s worth it not just to spot the comet NEOWISE but also more stars and possibly the Milky Way.

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