Best chance to see passing comet

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The Comet NEOWISE or C/2020 F3 is seen above Cered, Hungary, Monday, July 6, 2020. It passed closest to the Sun on 03 July and its closest approach to Earth will occur on 23 July. (Peter Komka/MTI via AP)

Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) traveled from the most distant parts of our solar system and has become visible to the naked eye. 

It made its approach to the Sun on July 3, 2020 and will make its way back to the outer parts of the solar system by mid-August.

The comet’s track in early July passed just inside Mercury’s orbit, bringing it very close to the Sun. Following this, a large tail of debris formed consisting of gas and dust. This was because the comet’s outermost layer was burning off.

It is a once in our lifetime event and people across the globe are racing to see it. Including astronauts aboard the International Space Station!

If you want to catch a glimpse, it will be visible about an hour before sunrise just above the horizon in the northeastern sky. Starting June 11th, Comet NEOWISE will begin to move away from the sun. Ultimately, changing the time you can view the comet. It will make its appearance this weekend in the evening northwestern sky, shortly after sunset.

Sunrise occurs just before 6:00 AM in Central Pennsylvania and sunset occurs a few minutes after 8:30 PM. A dark sky provides the best viewing conditions therefore, the earlier you look before sunrise the better. As it moves away from the sun it is expected to dim and break apart.

NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission discovered the comet on March 27, 2020 using its two infrared channels, which are sensitive to heat signatures given off as the Sun began to roast its outer layers.

Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE appears as a string of fuzzy red dots in this composite of several heat-sensitive infrared images taken by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission on March 27, 2020.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Here is a charge of visible times in the morning and the evening.

datemorning (low on NE horizon)evening (low on NW horizon)
7/103:28 AM – 4:32 AM
reaches 7.2° above horizon
not visible
7/113:21 AM – 4:26 AM
reaches 6.7° above horizon
10:13 PM – 10:26 PM
appears 1.1° above horizon
7/123:15 AM – 4:19 AM
reaches 6.1° above horizon
10:20 PM – 10:51 PM
appears 2.4° above horizon
7/133:11 AM – 4:12 AM
reaches 5.3° above horizon
10:27 PM – 11:18 PM
appears 3.8° above horizon
7/143:07 AM – 4:05 AM
reaches 4.5° above horizon
10:34 PM – 11:46 PM
appears 5.1° above horizon
7/153:06 AM – 3:58 AM
reaches 3.5° above horizon
10:41 PM – 12:15 AM
appears 6.4° above horizon
7/163:07 AM – 3:51 AM
reaches 2.5° above horizon
10:49 PM – 12:42 AM
appears 7.6° above horizon
7/173:14 AM – 3:44 AM
reaches 1.5° above horizon
10:56 PM – 1:03 AM
appears 8.7° above horizon

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