A comet named NEOWISE might become visible to the naked eye soon

A comet named NEOWISE might become visible to the naked eye soon
Comet NEOWISE (Source: NASA)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A recently discovered comet known as NEOWISE (C/2020 F3) is speeding towards the sun and some astronomers predict it will become visible to the naked eye sometime in early July.

According to spaceweather.com the comet is brightening rapidly as it passes by the sun. Petr Horálek of the Czech Republic, who spotted the comet this morning, July 2, was able to photograph the comet using a Canon 6D digital camera (Sigma 50mm, f1.4, ISO 400, 1/2sec) despite haze and clouds near the horizon.

“Fingers crossed that Comet NEOWISE will not die like Comets ATLAS and SWAN,” says Horálek. “It could be something truly spectacular in the days ahead!”

According to spaceweather.com Comet NEOWISE has a close brush with the Sun on July 3 and if it survives the solar onslaught skywatchers in the Northern Hemisphere could see it peep over the northeastern horizon at dawn. Its unusual name comes from NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), which discovered the comet back in March.

Michael Mattiazzo, a renowned amateur comet observer, predicts that Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3) has a better shot of surviving its close approach to the sun, or perihelion, than comets ATLAS and SWAN based on the available data so far.

"I'd say there's a 70 percent chance this comet will survive perihelion. Comet NEOWISE could be a case of third time lucky," Mattiazzo told SpaceWeather.com.

If you would like to observe Comet NEOWISE from North America, it should be visible very low in the northeast, near the sunrise position, before dawn for several weeks centered on July 6.

Plan to be at your observing site just before the start of dawn to anticipate the comet’s rising. Since sunrise in Alabama is around 5:41AM, it’s recommended that you go to your viewing location 2 hours prior to that.

Track the position of the comet by visiting The Sky Live website https://theskylive.com/c2020f3-info

Fingers crossed we get to see this comet soon!

Jill Gilardi WBRC First Alert Certified Meteorologist

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