Comet streaking past Earth, providing spectacular show | See photos
Comet Neowise — the brightest comet visible from the Northern Hemisphere in a quarter-century — swept within Mercury's orbit a week ago.
A newly discovered comet is streaking past Earth, providing a stunning nighttime show after buzzing the sun and expanding its tail.
Comet Neowise — the brightest comet visible from the Northern Hemisphere in a quarter-century — swept within Mercury's orbit a week ago. Its close proximity to the sun caused dust and gas to burn off its surface and create an even bigger debris tail. Now the comet is headed our way, with closest approach in two weeks.
NASA's Neowise infrared space telescope discovered the comet in March.
☄️Skywatchers in the Northern Hemisphere with clear skies have a chance to catch a glimpse of Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE). See when and where to look: https://t.co/LTXEpR0LjZ— NASA Solar System (@NASASolarSystem) July 10, 2020
☄️What is a comet, anyway? What do they look like up close? https://t.co/iNjHoHG59K#cometNEOWISE pic.twitter.com/vRNMIYVJHB
Scientists involved in the mission said the comet is about 3 miles (5 kilometers) across. Its nucleus is covered with sooty material dating back to the origin of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago.
The comet will be visible across the Northern Hemisphere until mid-August, when it heads back toward the outer solar system. While it's visible with the naked eye in dark skies with little or no light pollution, binoculars are needed to see the long tail, according to NASA.
I have a strong dislike of early mornings—but so worth it today because wow is that comet beautiful! C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) I was at Sunset Crater by 4AM. It was an easy naked-eye object, but really rewarding through binoculars. Last pic is closest to naked eye scale.#neowise pic.twitter.com/1I0Cx2fZQJ— Jeremy Perez (@jperez1690) July 5, 2020
It will be about 7,000 years before the comet returns, "so I wouldn't suggest waiting for the next pass," said the telescope's deputy principal investigator Joe Masiero of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
He said it is the brightest comet since the mid-1990s for stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere.
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have already caught a glimpse.
Comet NEOWISE & the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco pic.twitter.com/KLiQtqks4O— Black Hole (@konstructivizm) July 8, 2020
NASA's Bob Behnken shared a spectacular photo of the comet on social media late Thursday, showing central Asia in the background and the space station in the foreground.
"Stars, cities, spaceships, and a comet!" he tweeted from orbit.