This summer, you may get a chance to see a comet streaking through the sky — with a tail, no less — using only the naked eye.
Unlike Comet ATLAS and Comet SWAN, two comets discovered this year that have already fizzled out, the newly discovered Comet NEOWISE — also called C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) — survived its closest encounter with the sun July 3 without breaking up from the heat and has become visible in the Northern Hemisphere through binoculars — and even as a naked-eye object, according to Forbes.
Comet NEOWISE is expected to be at its brightest and easiest to see in mid-July, though it is already surpassing expectations for its naked-eye brightness, Forbes reported. However, comets are known to fizzle out at any moment.
Astronomer Steve Brown posted a UK time-lapse Tuesday on Twitter.
Comet NEOWISE is expected to be closest to the Earth on July 23, so if it remains bright, during that week will be the best time to see it. That will also be during a new moon when the sky will be dark and when the comet will be visible before midnight, according to Forbes.
To view the comet, binoculars are the best option right now, but by mid-July, it may be possible to see it with the naked eye, Forbes said.
Comet NEOWISE was first discovered on March 27 by NASA’s Near-Earth Objects Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) space telescope.
The next time Comet NEOWISE is expected back in the solar system is in about 6,800 years, Forbes reported.