Are you after one last chance to see comet NEOWISE “”; comet of the century? ”
You are late to the party. C / 2020 F3 (NEOWISE) has been visible to the naked eye for most of July, but is now fading as it moves further away from Earth and back into the outer Solar System.
However, everything is not lost because all you need to see COMET NEOWISE this weekend is a pair of binoculars.
Here’s how to find COMET NEOWISE before it goes well.
Step 1: Go to a dark place
Light pollution is a big problem for comet hunters. It lowers the contrast between the comet and the darkness, meaning it stays much less than it should be. This means that you will almost certainly not be able to find the NEOWISE NATION with the naked eye within the city limits.
However, get yourself in a dark location with a clear north-west view that is preferable not to overlook a town or city – and you can to have a chance.
You can massively increase your chances of seeing the NEOWISE comet with your own eyes by taking some binoculars with you; 10×50 are great for all kinds of stunning, but whatever you have will give you a great chance to see COMET NEOWISE with your own eyes.
Step 2: Know where and when to look
Comet NEOWISE has the right to see with the naked eye, in the constellation of Coma Berenices. It can be found about the north-northwest horizon, once it gets dark – about 90 minutes after sunset. However, you can watch late at night; the comet will move into the northern night sky, then northeast.
The trick is to find the Big Dipper / The Plowing – the shape that can be easily recognized by seven bright stars – then trace a diagonal line down the western horizon. About half below that line is the approximate location of comet NEOWISE this weekend.
Here are three star charts, one for the next three nights:
How to find COMET NEOWISE on Friday, July 31, 2020
How to find comet NEOWISE on Saturday, August 1, 2020
How to find COMET NEOWISE on Sunday, August 2, 2020
Step 3: Use binoculars to observe it
Take the binoculars in your hands. You’re sticking your elbows in, aren’t you? Draw your elbows so that they are tied against the rib cage. If you can, lean in front of a wall or a tree. This will give you some stability and give you a chance to find – and a stable view of the comet. You can even rest your binoculars on a wall, a rock or on top of a car.
Now decide where you think the comet is, using these tables, and draw a line down on the horizon. Now place your binoculars at that point and lift them up into the comet. Be patient and repeat until you have our little fuzzy friend in your sights.
The comet seems to be traveling towards the horizon – its tail is retracting behind it, higher in the sky.
Tips for observing the NEOWISE comet
The peripheral view of the human eye is most sensitive to brightness, while the center of the eye is more sensitive to color. So when you observe the comet through binoculars, look slightly to its left or right, and its tail. That way, your peripheral vision will better reveal its brightness. This technique is called “avoided vision”.
It also helps in the dark adjustment of your eyes. Stay somewhere completely dark for 20 minutes – and do not look at the pupils on your smartphone and your pupils will thin to leave as much light as possible. That way, you will see many more stars, and you will see the comet more clearly.
Find it while you can because this massive ice ball is not coming back for 6,800 years.
I wish you clear skies and wide eyes.