In preparation for comet NEOWISE’s upcoming near-Earth approach, several observatories will host live stream events to showcase the rare cosmic phenomenon.
NEOWISE, officially known as C/2020 F3, was first discovered by NASA on March 27 using its Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) telescope. Over the past couple of weeks, the comet has been moving closer to Earth.
The comet is expected to reach its closest distance to Earth tomorrow at 9:09 p.m. EDT. During this time, NASA estimated that NEOWISE would be about 0.69 astronomical units from Earth’s center, which is equivalent to about 64 million miles.
Those in the Northern Hemisphere will be able to spot the comet right after sunset. It will appear just below the Big Dipper constellation. The comet is going to be bright enough to be spotted without the use of binoculars or powerful telescopes.
For those who won’t be able to catch the comet because of their locations, they could still watch its near-Earth flyby through the various live streaming events hosted by different observatories.
One of them is the Virtual Telescope, which is based in Italy. The observatory’s live stream of comet NEOWISE is scheduled to begin tomorrow. It can be viewed through YouTube, the Virtual Telescope’s website, or through the video below.
Aside from the Virtual Telescope, the Lowell Observatory based in Flagstaff, Arizona will also host a live video to broadcast comet NEOWISE’s near-Earth approach. The event will be shown through YouTube and the observatory’s website.
According to astronomer Kevin Schindler of the Lowell Observatory, the comet will appear in the northwest portion of the sky. He noted that even though the comet’s position in the sky is going to change throughout the day, this does not reflect NEOWISE’s actual movement.
“Comet NEOWISE will be visible low in the northwest, in the bottom reaches of the constellation Ursa Major,” he explained in a statement. “Note that while it changes position each day, it does not by any means ‘streak across the sky.’ Its relative movement against the background stars is more akin to that of the Moon plodding across the sky (whose obvious motion is detected over hours or days) than that of a shooting star.”