Scott Young, director of the Manitoba Museum Planetarium, says the comet, made up of rock and ice, goes back to the origin of the solar system.
“Most of the time, it’s not something you can see without a telescope,” said Young. “But every once in a while one of these comets surprises us and becomes brighter than expected, and that’s what we see here. It is visible to the naked eye and from a place far from the city lights.
“It’s really cool to see a comet like that. It is probably, almost certainly, the first time that a human has seen this particular object. “
Young says the comet will approach 100 million kilometers from Earth, which is normally too far to see with the naked eye.
“For some reason, this comet has melted a lot and the tail has become very large and shiny, and that’s what we can see from this distance,” he said.
Another shot from Friday morning! Stacked together to bring out the sparkle of all the stars and noxious clouds! This one, I would be proud to hang it on my wall! I can’t wait to shoot #NEOWISE again! ❤️ # comet #cometNEOWISE #StormHour #noctilucentclouds #NOCs #Manitoba #Canada pic.twitter.com/Y2AUbPAL0e
– Shannon Bileski☈ (@shannbil) July 11, 2020
Photographer Shannon Bileski has captured several snapshots of the comet in the past few days. She says her photos have been further enhanced by the presence of very vibrant clouds in the upper atmosphere.
“They’re very amazing to see and I knew where I wanted to hit, try to hit the comet and that’s where I went,” said Bileski, whose bucket list included a photograph of a comet. . “Get out, see it, pull it out.” It is quite incredible to see. ”
The last time a comet of this calibre was visible from Earth was comet Hale-Bopp in 1997, according to Young. He says Comet Neowise is not expected to enter our solar system for 6,000 years.
“They can come at any time,” said Young. “They are very unpredictable. We don’t know where they are all, and sometimes a new discovery like this will come out of nowhere and simply surprise us.
“Astronomers have left almost everything to take advantage of this limited opportunity.”