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Environment & Climate Change

NEOWISE, brightest comet in over 20 years, visible for next few weeks

NEOWISE comet in the sky over France
Maxime Storm / Wikimedia Commons
CC BY-SA 4.0
Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) captured from the Seine et Marne region in France, around 3 A.M. on the morning of July 13, 2020.

For the first time in more than 20 years, there's a bright comet in the nighttime sky. Comet NEOWISE was discovered by a space probe in late March. But Kalamazoo Astronomical Society President Richard Bell says people can now see it after sunset.

"Just look below the 'Big Dipper,' between the 'Big Dipper' and the horizon, with binoculars probably first. You should be able to see it, so it should be an easy sight to see," he said. "But if it's nice and clear, you should be able to see the comet with no optical aid whatsoever, with just your eyes alone."

Bell says the comet is now between the "Big Dipper" and the northwest horizon. He says it should remain visible to the naked eye for several weeks.

"This is the brightest comet we've had since Hale-Bopp in 1997. On average, we get one of these a decade, so when these things do come along, you really have to get out and enjoy it. It's not something you can plan long in advance on your calendar. When they come, you have to go out and look, otherwise you miss out."

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