Comet NEOWISE is Closest to Earth This Week – How to See It
Your best opportunity at a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Neowise, the newly discovered comet streaking through Earth’s night skies over South Jersey, is this week when it will come closest to us on July 22nd -- just 64 million miles away.
Through mid-August, if you look to the northwestern sky at twilight, just after the sun sets, find the the Big Dipper constellation and look just below it and you'll see the comet.
The comet will appear low on the horizon. It looks a bit like a fuzzy star with a tail. If you’re in an area with little or no light pollution, you should be able to see it with the naked eye. Otherwise, you’ll need binoculars to spot the long tail, according to NASA.
NEOWISE will climb a little bit higher in the sky each day until it disappears next month. It won’t make a return appearance for about 7,000 years.
Comets are really just made up of ice and dust and organic material. Many of the comets with long orbits, like Neowise, only venture through the inner solar system and close to the sun for a short time. Neowise recently made its closest approach to the sun without breaking apart, which seems to suggest it could have a more sturdy structure than normal.
Wondering what's with the name NEOWISE? It is named for the NASA's "Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer," which first spotted it on March 27.
After its closest approach to Earth, Comet NEOWISE will continue on its very long orbit to the edge of the solar system before returning to the inner solar system.
Scientists point out this means the comet isn't exactly new, only new to us, because it previously passed through Earth's skies about 6,800 years ago.