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Star gazers look to the Big Sky

Stargazers under the Big Sky are enjoying a rare treat this week as the Comet NEOWISE zips through the inner solar system before it speeds away into the depths of space. Discovered on March 27, 2020 by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission, Comet NEOWISE is putting on a dazzling display for skywatchers before it disappears, not to be seen again for another 6,800 years. 

For those hoping to catch a glimpse of  Comet NEOWISE before it’s gone, there are several observing opportunities over the coming days when it will become increasingly visible shortly after sunset in the northwest sky. If you’re looking at the sky without the help of observation tools, Comet NEOWISE will likely look like a fuzzy star with a bit of a tail, so using binoculars or a small telescope is recommended to get the best views of this object. 

For those hoping to see Comet Neowise for themselves, here’s what to do: 

  • Find a spot away from city lights with an unobstructed view of the sky

  • Just after sunset, look below the Big Dipper in the northwest sky, from there scan toward the horizon

  • If you have them, bring binoculars or a small telescope to get the best views 

Each night, the comet will continue rising increasingly higher above the northwestern horizon.  The best time for viewing is shortly before daybreak or after dark, but before 11 pm.

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