The current week (period from July 14 to July 19, 2020) will be the most convenient time to observe an unexpected and very rare guest in the solar system – the comet NEOWISE. At this time in the Northern Hemisphere it is worth waiting for her in an hour and a half after sunset. The comet will be visible to the naked eye, and the presence of any optical device will add detail and color to this process.
Comet NEOWISE was first discovered on March 27 by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer. It got its name from its abbreviation. By June, the comet was close enough to the Sun to grow a long and beautiful tail. Astronomers have established that on July 3 NEOWISE passed perihelion, circled the star and headed back, along a very favorable trajectory for us to approach the Earth.
The current distance to NEOWISE is about 100,000,000 km, and it won’t fly any closer, except insignificantly. The closest position will be observed on July 22, after which the comet will fly away to the outer borders of the solar system to return no earlier than 6800 years later. That is, now we have the last chance to admire the space traveler.