Look up! Comet NEOWISE is visible to the naked eye

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Comet NEOWISE. (Courtesy: Stacey Anne Leeson)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — If you’ve noticed a new object in the morning sky over the past few days, you aren’t alone.

Stacey Anne Leeson captured the photo above of Comet C/2020 F3. This comet was discovered back in March by NASA’s Near Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer space telescope. The comet is also called Comet NEOWISE after the telescope that made the discovery.

Comet NEOWISE was closest to the sun on July 3. The comet was able to withstand the tremendous heat from the sun as it passed by and is now crossing outside Earth’s orbit.

If you want to catch a glimpse of the comet, look to the northeast about an hour before sunrise over the next few days. The nucleus should be visible with the naked eye, but you’ll want binoculars or another optical aid to pick out the long tail. By July 11, the comet will be visible at dusk in the northwest. It will then be visible after sunset until mid-August.

According to investigators with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the comet is about 5 kilometers or about 3 miles wide. It will pass by Earth at a distance of around 64 million miles, making it harmless to our planet.

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