If you want to see Comet NEOWISE, you better do it today or Thursday.
That’s because it won’t be viewable again for another 7,000 years.
Here’s how to see it: Take out a pair of binoculars, look to the northwest, find the Big Dipper constellation in the sky and look below it. Avoid city lights, tall buildings and trees. Len Ward of the Central Florida Astronomical Society said the best viewing time is between 9:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Look about 30 degrees above the horizon to start, he said.
“The farther away from Orlando the better, and going northwest is best,” he said. “The Ocala National Forest is about the best for low light pollution all the way down to the horizon.”
Ward said it will appear as a fuzzy-looking star, which is the nucleus of the comet, with the tail running up and right but a bit dimmer. The comet is not as bright as Hale-Bopp from the late 1990s, but a planetary app on your phone will help you find it. He said he has been using his Pentax 7x50 binoculars, which have worked well.
Fox 35 meteorologist Glenn Richards said the skies should be clear so the comet should be viewable.
“We don’t have anything coming at us that will mess [viewing] up,” said Richards.
The comet was discovered in March by NEOWISE, which the Near Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer that was launched by NASA in 2009.
The comet will pass earth from 64 million miles away, is about three miles across in size and is “covered with sooty, dark particles left over from its formation near the birth of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago,” said Joseph Masiero, NEOWISE deputy principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, on its website.
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