Wow! Comet NEOWISE is visible in Arizona skies
With the arrival of the summer monsoon season and the possible end of our drought, we turn our attention to the end of the long “drought” of visible comets!
Not since the great comet McNaught of 2007, have sky watchers had the opportunity to view a decent near-naked eye comet!
Welcome, Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3), discovered back in March of this year, by the NEOWISE (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) spacecraft.
This small comet has now proven itself as a survivor of the intense solar wind and heat, as it approached closest to the sun July 3.
Coming within the orbit of Mercury and whipping around the sun is not an easy task for the survival of any type of object like this.
The comet is thought to have an orbit of some 10,000 years and is known as a retrograde-type comet, as it is gravitationally not bound to the solar system.
After its closest approach to the sun, it has survived and is now rather easy object to view in the north-northeast sky by around 4:30 a.m. Arizona time.
Here is a basic finder chart for the comet in the morning sky for early July 2020.
I had my first opportunity to view the comet, on the early morning hours of July 6, seeing it rise at 4:30a.m. Wow! … what a sight in my 10×42 binoculars.
As the comet rose, I did get to glimpse it with the naked eye and see a short tail – all this in bright moonlight.
Here is another chart to help you locate the comet for the next week or so.
I suggest a pair or binoculars to help enhance the view, as the comet will remain easy to view in the north-northeast sky, before dawn.
The comet will then move into the evening sky as we get deeper into July.
Here is an image of the comet which I took in my small telescope, with my iPhone:
This is a rare opportunity to view a comet, a relic of the creation of the solar system and
a true, once in a lifetime experience with comet NEOWISE.