ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — Neowise has been the topic of celestial conversation for several days now, and rightfully so. This comet is rare, 6,800 years rare to be exact. That’s nearly 87 TIMES longer than the average human lifespan in the U.S. To put it simply, you’d have to wait another 87 lifetimes before seeing this specific comet again.
The door is still open to see this rare celestial event as it can be seen until late July, but don’t wait too long or you’ll miss your shot before it disappears into the depths of space for a very long time.
This weekend will be another great weekend for viewing this rare astronomical event with both tonight AND Saturday evening having the greatest chance at mostly clear skies all around. You can check out the latest on the forecast here:
Neowise has already put on a beautiful display across the nation as sightseers, scientists, and photographers have been gathering to grab the coveted photo.
Some have even been able to capture it’s TWO tails if you have a decent enough camera and know how to use it. The main tail will appear the brightest in the night sky “attached” to the comet itself, while the second tail is a bit more faint just to the side of the main one.
Wondering when you can still see it? Below are the updated best times for visibility of the comet here in Rochester:
You can click the link below the photo above to search the visibility in other cities as well.
Facts about Neowise:
**Remember that the two times you can see this comet are just after the sun sets in the night sky on the northwest horizon, and just before the sun rises again early in the morning on the northeast horizon. Check the graphic above for the specific time frames to view it. So, how much longer will our comet stick around for?
Neowise will remain visible in the night sky until it reaches its peak height by July 23rd. With each passing day the position of the comet will increase with height making it much easier to see for those obscured by the tree line or other objects that get in the way close to the horizon.
Without the aid from binoculars or a telescope, the comet will look like a fuzzy star with a slightly glowing tail to the naked eye. It’s not a very large object viewing it from Earth as it’s about the size as a normal star would be sitting in the night sky but slightly larger. It’s also not moving like an airplane; it won’t be a flashing or blinking light in the sky.
Here are tips straight from NASA on how to best view the comet:
- Find a spot away from city lights with an unobstructed view of the sky
- Just after sunset, look below the Big Dipper in the northwest sky
- If you have them, bring binoculars or a small telescope to get the best views of this dazzling display
Fun Facts about comets:
Did you know that comets are literally giant snowballs made of gas, dust, and ice that make orbits around our sun? Unlike a meteor or meteorite that are actually “shooting stars” of debris that shoot across our atmosphere, comets like this one will appear to be floating in one place as if by magic. This is because comets are actually passing through space millions of miles away from the Earth. As comets approach our sun, these balls of gas and ice will heat up and illuminate forming a visible tail. Pretty neat right?
So yes, this comet is moving at a fast pace at a modest 17,500 miles per hour, but to our naked eyes here on Earth (64 million miles away), the distance is so far out that it gives off the appearance that it’s stationary.
Now get outside, grab the bug spray, a lawn chair and some binoculars and try to grab a picture before it’s gone!