The newly-discovered Comet Neowise – a big-tailed beauty which has become the brightest comet visible in the U.S. in a quarter-century – is now visible in Michigan in the evenings as well as just before sunrise. Tonight and early tomorrow will likely be good viewing times, forecasters say.
And it’s expected to stay in view for at least the next 10 days. But you’ll want to catch it before it disappears, because it won’t cruise back by for nearly 7,000 years, scientists say.
“Mostly clear skies tonight should allow for a viewing of Comet NEOWISE shortly after sunset and again prior to sunrise,” meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Gaylord said earlier today.
To check for it tonight, go outside around 10 p.m. and look north/northwest in the sky, right around the horizon. To try to catch it before sunrise, you’ll want to look to the northeast in the sky, about 10 degrees above the horizon. The best early-morning viewing time will be around 5 a.m
It’s best seen with a good pair of binoculars or even a telescope, but its tail recently got brighter and it can be seen with your eyes. Its approach will get closer until about July 23, scientists have said.
The comet was discovered in March via NASA’s Neowise infrared space telescope, according to the Associated Press. It has a official name – Comet C/2020 F3 – but the telescope’s name has become the comet’s moniker.
Researchers say the comet is about 3 mile across. Its origins are ancient. “Its nucleus is covered with sooty material dating back to the origin of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago,” the AP said.
Neowise is expected to head back out toward our outer solar system in mid-August, but should be visible until then.
Because of its parabolic orbit, it will be about 6,800 years before Neowise swings back in view, “so I wouldn’t suggest waiting for the next pass,” said the telescope’s deputy principal investigator, Joe Masiero of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, according to the AP.
Stargazers and photographers in Michigan and the Great Lakes region have been posting photos of the comet on social media for the last few days. We’e included a few below so you’ll know what you’re looking for if you’re heading out to search the skies.