88ºF

Rare sight! How to see comet NEOWISE with the naked eye in July

Comet becomes visible in the evening in mid-July

The Comet NEOWISE or C/2020 F3 is seen above Salgotarjan, Hungary, early Friday, July 10, 2020. It passed closest to the Sun on July 3 and its closest approach to the Earth will occur on July 23. (Peter Komka/MTI via AP)
The Comet NEOWISE or C/2020 F3 is seen above Salgotarjan, Hungary, early Friday, July 10, 2020. It passed closest to the Sun on July 3 and its closest approach to the Earth will occur on July 23. (Peter Komka/MTI via AP) (MTVA - Media Service Support and Asset Management Fund)

ORLANDO, Fla. – The third time is a charm!

Comet ATLAS and SWAN both had promise to be naked-eye comets in our sky this spring. And although both brightened quickly, they fizzled.

The excitement surrounding newly-discovered Comet NEOWISE wasn’t as intense but had the some potential to become visible to the naked eye early in July. And NEOWISE is delivering.

NEOWISE survived its trip around the sun and is currently visible in the morning sky to the unaided eye. Check out more about how to see it below.

The Comet NEOWISE or C/2020 F3 is seen above Cered, Hungary, Monday, July 6, 2020. It passed closest to the Sun on 03 July and its closest approach to Earth will occur on 23 July. (Peter Komka/MTI via AP)
The Comet NEOWISE or C/2020 F3 is seen above Cered, Hungary, Monday, July 6, 2020. It passed closest to the Sun on 03 July and its closest approach to Earth will occur on 23 July. (Peter Komka/MTI via AP) (MTVA - Media Service Support and Asset Management Fund)

Comet NEOWISE was discovered by NASA’s Near Earth Object-Wide Infrared Surveyor Explorer telescope in late March and is now back on a trip to the outer reaches of our solar system.

A dim body of frozen gas, rock and dust becomes vibrant when it gets closer to the sun.
A dim body of frozen gas, rock and dust becomes vibrant when it gets closer to the sun.

How to see

It will be visible in the northern pre-dawn sky for a few more mornings before becoming visible after the sun sets for the remainder of the month.

NEOWISE won’t be as obvious as Hale-Bopp was in the 90s, but you should be able to spot it with the unaided eye if you know where and what you are looking for.

Having a pair of binoculars handy will definitely help your cause in viewing NEOWISE. It will appear as a fuzzy ball with a faint tail.

Locate the Big Dipper in the northwest sky to help find NEOWISE. You may need binoculars initially to locate the comet, but should be able to see it with the unaided eye after location. Knowing where the comet is in the sky will help you find as it won't stick out like Hale-Bopp in the 90s.
Locate the Big Dipper in the northwest sky to help find NEOWISE. You may need binoculars initially to locate the comet, but should be able to see it with the unaided eye after location. Knowing where the comet is in the sky will help you find as it won't stick out like Hale-Bopp in the 90s.

Starting July 15, low on the horizon, look for NEOWISE after sunset in the northwest sky. Locate the Big Dipper and look below it. NEOWISE will climb higher in the sky each night making it easier to see, however the comet will begin to dim slightly as it moves further away from the sun.

NEOWISE is even visible from the ISS! Cosmonaut Ivan Vagner on the International Space Station snapped this photo of NEOWISE on the Fourth of July.

If you snap any photos, upload them right to the Pinpoint Weather App in the PinIt section (camera icon). Happy viewing!


About the Author: