NEOWISE comet still visible in the night sky

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Photo: Philippe Moussette

This photo of Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) sailing over Quebec City was taken by Philippe Moussette on July 20 at Camp Mercier with a Canon 1DX Mark III, 100 mm f2.8 2x1 minutes 1600 iso. If you miss seeing Comet NEOWISE this time around, don’t worry. It’ll be back – in 6,800 years.   

 Philippe Moussette, president of the Club d’Astronomie VÉGA de Cap-Rouge, sent us this photo of a newly-discovered comet that can be seen in the sky on clear nights until the end of July. The comet was discovered on March 27, 2020, by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or NEOWISE. The comet has since been named after the telescope. The spacecraft is on its second mission after reactivation in 2013; it is designed to assist NASA hunting near-Earth objects (NEOs). It flies around the Earth every 95 minutes. It has taken measurements of 35,000 different solar system objects, including 1,024 NEOs and 172 comets. The three-mile wide comet has lit up the skies, wowing people across the globe since early July. The comet can be seen low in the northwest sky after dark, immediately below the bowl of the Big Dipper. Comet NEOWISE made its closest approach to Earth on July 22, passing a scant 100 million kilometres away (that’s 260 times further away than the moon). It will gradually fade as it recedes.Comets are frozen balls of dust and gas that orbit the sun. It’s hard for astronomers to predict how bright a comet will glow and many of them break up as they approach.Being able to catch a glimpse of the comet – officially known as C/2020 F3 – is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as it won’t pass Earth again for another 6,800 years, according to the International Dark-Sky Association.For more information, visit NASA’s website at nasa.gov/feature/how-to-see-comet-neowiseSources: Wikipedia; NASA