Early morning risers have been treated to views of Comet Neowise, captured in a photo in Kansas on Monday, but the comet will be visible in Colorado about an hour after sunset this week. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Comet Neowise is going prime time, moving into the evening sky. You’ll be able to see it with the naked eye in metro Denver and Boulder.
Comet Neowise is zooming around the planet, and you’ll be able to see it in the sky above Colorado for the next couple of weeks. To see the brightest comet in nearly a quarter of a century, all you need is a little patience.
Comet Neowise has been visible in the east-northeast sky with the naked eye about an hour before sunrise for the past month. The comet, which NASA says could become known as the “Great Comet of 2020,” is going prime time, though, and this week is visible in the evening sky.
It will appear to zoom across the northwestern sky about an hour after sunset, below the Big Dipper, according to NASA.
The best dates to see it are now through Sunday, according to Space.com.
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Comet Neowise has been a big hit with skywatchers, but “the best is yet to come,” veteran comet observer Terry Lovejoy told Space.com.
Though you’ll be able to see it without a small telescope or binoculars, weather permitting, those instruments offer better views. Here’s what the National Weather Service’s seven-day forecast calls for in Denver’s metro area and Boulder:
|Tuesday night||Mostly cloudy||Mostly cloudy|
|Wednesday night||Partly cloudy||Partly cloudy|
|Thursday night||Partly cloudy||Mostly cloudy|
|Friday night||Mostly cloudy||Mostly cloudy|
|Saturday night||Mostly cloudy||Mostly cloudy|
|Sunday night||Mostly cloudy||Mostly cloudy|
Sky & Telescope says Comet Neowise will appear just as the last of twilight fades into darkness. The Big Dipper hangs by its handle at this time, so look about three fists below the “bowl.”
Comet Neowise will fade after July 19 as it comes closer to our planet. Its closest approach to Earth occurs on July 22, after which it will fade more rapidly and eventually disappear from our universe.
The comet has brightened 100-fold since June 9, and is only getting better — especially for those with an aversion to early mornings.
The comet appears to rise tail first, followed by its bright head or coma, which Space.com said shines “as bright as a first-magnitude star” — a designation reserved for the brightest of stars. For comparison purposes, Polaris, the North Star, is a second-magnitude star.
Comet Neowise appears low on the horizon, so early morning viewers will need to plan to get away from trees and buildings. It’s also competing with a nearly full moon, which can make it hard to see.
Relatively new in the continuum of time, Comet Neowise hasn’t made an appearance in our universe for 6,800 years.
NASA says the comet is an inner-solar system “intruder” that could become known as the Great Comet of 2020. It’s large by comet standards, measuring about 3 miles across.
The comet is the brightest to visit Earth’s atmosphere since Comet Hale-Bopp made an appearance in 1997.