Last chance weekend to see comet NEOWISE


The comet, first discovered in March, is now moving away from Earth but will still appear in the northwest sky between 11 p.m. and midnight for the next few days.

THUNDER BAY – Astronomers hoping to spot a visiting celestial body traversing the solar system had better look at the night sky soon, as the light begins to fade as it returns to interstellar space.Comet NEOWISE, first discovered in March, has survived its orbit around the sun and is rapidly moving away from Earth.

“You probably only have until the end of this weekend,” said Dave Gallant, local astronomy enthusiast. “It’s darkening, so now’s a good chance to go out and try to take a picture of it.”

For the next few days, NEOWISE can be seen in the northwestern sky between 11 p.m. and midnight just below the constellation Ursa Major.

“Look halfway to the horizon under the Big Dipper,” Gallant said. “If you have a pair of binoculars, look for a fuzzy streak in the sky with a specific end on it. ”

Images of the Heavenly Visitor have circulated widely on the Internet, with astronomers taking photos around the world.

According to Gallant, comets as visible as NEOWISE are a rare sight in the night sky.

“Comets aren’t very often in our night sky,” he says. “A lot of them revolve around the sun like we do and the sun takes about 6,000 years, so it’s a unique comet to see.”

“A lot of comets don’t survive their journey around the sun. They get too close and are made of ice, dirt and water and they get sucked in by the sun or melt and evaporate. The fact that this one did and we can see it is pretty cool.

NEOWISE survived its journey around our star in July, producing the familiar tailed comets for which heat evaporates the ice and water inside the comet.

If you miss catching a glimpse of NEOWISE, there is another astronomical spectacle to watch out for, much closer to you.

The International Space Station is expected to make several passes over the city in the coming days and it’s hard to miss if you look up.

“We are in the middle of a number of passages of the International Space Station overhead,” said Gallant. “It looks like a bright star crossing the sky. It takes five minutes to travel from one side of the sky to the other. There is a two week period every two months in which you will be given three or four passes per night. ”

“You think there are five people floating in space about 400 kilometers above us.”

There are several websites that can help you track where and when the ISS will pass overhead.

To see NEOWISE, all you need is a clear line of sight to the northwest. Being out of town and away from light pollution will also make it easier to spot.


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