Rare Comet Sighting: What Does NEOWISE Mean, When to Watch and How to Photograph it?

NEOWISE Comet C/2020 F3 will be closest to Earth on July 22 at a distance of 103 million kilometers.

The rare 'NEOWISE' Comet has grabbed the attention of millions and has left people curious around the world as it appears in the night sky. The comet is now visible with an optical aid in the northern U.S. and Canada as an evening object in the north of the sky's dome.

The Comet NEOWISE will be seen from July 13 to 19 just after the sunset. To get a clear view of the northwest horizon, people should face northwest at dusk. Keep your binoculars ready to sweep around the location for the comet in the sky as for some, the comet might not be visible with the naked eye.

Interestingly, unlike Hailey's comet, the NEOWISE comet will not return to the inner solar system for another 6,800 years. This kind of rare celestial events have always fascinated humans. On the other hand, the "periodic" Halley's Comet approaches Earth s about every 75 years, making it possible for humans to get a glimpse of it at least twice in their lifetime.

The comet will be closest to Earth on July 22 at a distance of 103 million kilometers. While it is now visible as an evening object, the comet will be a delight to stargazers across the globe on the day it nears Earth.

What Does NEOWISE mean?

The word NEOWISE means Near-Earth Object WISE. NEOWISE is an abbreviated form for objects that are in space but closer to Earth.

Planetary Science Institute

How to Capture the rare NEOWISE Comet from Earth?

Recently, social media specialist Bill Dunford from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) shared the details on how to photograph the rarely seen comet in the night sky. The amateur astrophotographer said that one should fix the camera on a tripod away from light pollution and take pictures in manual mode.

This allows the shutter to remain open for at least 4 seconds, which is the longest. Clicking a photograph manually attracts a lot of light and it does the trick of capturing a comet in the dark sky at night. To get the best shot, one should go far away from city lights. A wide-angle lens is necessary for capturing the tail of the comet as it takes up enough wide area.

NASA's Take on NEOWISE Comet

NASA said that comets are unpredictable and uneasy to spot. However, NEOWISE can be spotted with their naked eyes. From mid-July on, the comet will rise higher above the northwestern horizon and will be best viewed as an evening object. However, the observers at lower latitudes will get the view of the comet lower in the sky, while for observers farther north, it will appear higher in the sky.