How and when to see comet NEOWISE from the UK

Image used with kind permission from Darren Musgrove

When is the best time to see comet NEOWISE?

Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE, to give its full designation, will be visible in the evening skies by observers in the Northern hemisphere throughout July 2020. The comet’s closest approach to Earth is on 24th July when it will be 103.7 million kilometres distant and is likely to be the very best time to see it.

Image courtesy of Sky and Telescope

The chart shows the position of the comet in the sky between the 14th to the 23rd July at 23:00 in the evening, this the time when the comet should just about be visible to the naked eye towards the North West. You may need to wait another half an hour, perhaps even until midnight, before seeing it more clearly once the skies have darkened. During the course of the night will appear to move (due to Earth’s rotation) towards the North and by dawn will appear towards the North East. When it is due North it will be at its lowest point in the sky however will remain visible above the Northern horizon all night.

Where is the best place to see comet NEOWISE?

The comet is easily visible to the naked eye from a reasonably dark sky location that is free from the worst light pollution. If you cannot escape bright lights or are unable travel to a dark sky site don’t worry as the comet can still be seen however will likely require visual aid such as a pair of binoculars. As the comet appears fairly low in the sky you will need an unobstructed view towards the Northern horizon to see it. See our map of stargazing locations for places near you.

What is the best way to observe comet NEOWISE?

The best way to observe the comet is by using a pair of binoculars. You should be able to see the bright core of the comet and far more of its tail than you can see just with your naked eye.

Whilst any pair of binoculars will improve your view we highly recommend those which are 10×50 in size as these are great for not only observing the comet but for general astronomy use too. If you are looking to purchase some we always advise buying from an independent astronomy equipment retailer and recommend First Light Optics who sell a range of suitable binoculars and offer fantastic customer service.

Helios Fieldmaster comet spotting binoculars
Helios Fieldmaster 50mm Binoculars
£49.00. Perfect for beginners these prism based binoculars offer excellent optics for the price.

Opticron Adventurer comet spotting binoculars
Opticron Adventurer 10×50 T WP Binoculars
£79.00 recommended as the best binoculars for stargazing under £100.00

We hope you get to see the comet!

For up to date information see our Facebook page. Clear skies!

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