BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Comet NEOWISE, named after the satellite that spotted it, is the brightest comet visible from the Northern Hemisphere in nearly 25 years.
We can see the classic tail on NEOWISE because it is traveling close to the sun. The close proximity to the sun causes the comet to heat up and release ionized gas and dust particles. As the gas burns off it creates a large debris tail. NEOWISE is about 3 miles long and you can easily spot the comet with your naked eye on a clear night, void of much city light pollution. Binoculars can help too.
Do you want to see it? Fortunately, with it’s approach drawing close to earth, the viewing time has shifted from really early into the morning, to just near sunset. I like the evening viewing times better myself. First, find the big dipper. It will be in the northwest. Then from the bottom of the big dipper, look towards the horizon. The comet will rise up a bit more in the sky each day over the next week. The best time is about 1 to 1.5 hours after sunset.
This comet was discovered in March and will not be seen again until the year 8820.
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