Space enthusiasts are occasionally treated to eclipses and meteor showers. But there is now a window to spot a far rarer celestial phenomenon – a comet.

Comet NEOWISE is hurtling close enough to the Earth to be easily visible as it streaks through our skies this month.

The comet has already been photographed behind many famous sites and cities around the globe


Officially known as C/2020 F3, Comet NEOWISE can be seen with the naked eye once pinpointing with binoculars or a telescope.

Comet NEOWISE, named after the Near Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer telescope that first spotted it in March, has been delighting stargazers around the world.

The comet is currently millions of miles from Earth and during its closest approach on July 23 will still be 64 million miles off – approximately 400 times further away than the Moon.


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US-based space agency NASA said the comet was “putting on a spectacular night-time display”.

NASA added: “It made its once-in-our-lifetimes close approach to the Sun on July 3, 2020, and will cross outside Earth’s orbit on its way back to the outer parts of the solar system by mid-August.

“The interplanetary iceberg survived solar heating, so far, and is now becoming closer to the Earth as it starts its long trek back to the outer Solar System.

“As Comet NEOWISE became one of the few naked-eye comets of the 21st Century, word spread quickly, and the comet has already been photographed behind many famous sites and cities around the globe.”

Made of gas, dust, ice and rock, comets tend to come from the furthest regions of our solar system and move in long orbits.

Astronomers agree NEOWISE is the best comet visible from the UK in more than two decades.

It was in 1996 and 1997 that the then newly-discovered comet Hale-Bopp made a spectacular appearance in our skies.

As a result, skygazers should attempt to get a glimpse of this latest visitor while they have the chance.

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How to see Comet NEOWISE flyby over UK skies:

Comet NEOWISE is actually visible over UK skies throughout July.

Look to the east around midnight to 1am and – weather permitting – you will see the bright object that is actually Venus.

From there, look left, while facing north, and you should see the bright star Capella.

Then look down towards the horizon and to the left and you should be able to see a streak – Comet NEOWISE.

Each night the comet will sit a little further to the left in the skies.

Because the comet is close to the horizon, you will require a view unobscured by buildings or trees.

From the middle of the month onwards, the comet will be visible all through the night but will remain low in the sky.

By July 25, the comet will appear 30 degrees up from the west-northwest horizon as darkness falls.

And between July 30 and 31, the comet will be passing just to the north of the fine star cluster of Coma Berenices, also known as Berenice’s Hair.

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