A Rarely Seen Comet That Won’t Be Visible For Another 6,000 Years Can Be Spotted This Month
Earlier this year, astronomers using the NEOWISE (short for Near Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) space telescope had discovered a ‘surprise’ comet that has continued to light up the sky into the summer.
Dubbed “Comet NEOWISE”, the elusive comet was located 194 million miles from the sun, and didn’t hold a second thought to the astronomers who had first discovered the comet—until it survived the flyby approach to the sun and began appearing as a perfectly circular object, visible with only the naked eye.
“Theoretically, the comet shouldn't still be brightening noticeably, as its distance to the sun is undergoing only a small reduction day-to-day at this point, making me think that the comet's current brightness is not being governed mainly by its distance from the sun but, rather it is experiencing some manner of progressive slow outburst,” comet expert John E. Bortle of Stormville, New York, told Space.com.
The comet may become even more visible in the evening sky as soon as July 12. Having already been spotted in Russia, Australia, and the United States, the comet will make its closest approach to Earth between July 12 and July 25.
“The comet continues to be stunning, rising tail first over the plateau, some 20 miles distant,” Astrophotographer Chris Schur told Space.com in a statement. “I was able to easily see it naked eye with about a degree of tail visually. Gorgeous yellow color in the scope.”
While astrologers cannot precisely predict when and where the ‘surprise’ comet can be spotted, it’s suggested to take a look outside approximately 80 minutes before sunrise and 80 minutes after sunset—and it’s recommended skywatchers make the effort to do so, as the comet may not be visible again until the year 8786.
See also: Tatler's Guide to Going to Outer Space