Are you after one last chance to see comet NEOWISE, the “comet of the century?”;
Arrive late for the party. C / 2020 F3 (NEOWISE) has been visible to the naked eye for much of July, but is now fading as it moves further away from Earth and back into the outer solar system.
However, not everything is lost because All you need to see Comet NEOWISE this weekend is any pair of binoculars.
Here’s how to find the Comet NEOWISE before it goes well.
Step 1: Approach a dark place
Light pollution is a big problem for kite hunters. It reduces the contrast between the comet and the darkness, so it stands out much less than it should. This means that you will almost certainly not be able to find Comet NEOWISE now with the help of your eyes within the city limits.
However, approach a relatively dark place, with a clear view to the northwest that preferably doesn’t take into account a city or town. may be have a chance.
You can massively increase your chances of seeing Comet NEOWISE with your own eyes by taking some binoculars with you; The 10x50s are great for all sorts of strategies, but anything you have will have a great chance to see Comet NEOWISE with your own eyes.
Step 2: Know where and when to look
Comet NEOWISE is right at the base of naked-eye visibility in the constellation Coma Berenices. It can be found on the north-northwest horizon as soon as it gets dark, about 90 minutes after sunset. However, you can watch late at night; the comet will pass into the northern, northeastern night sky.
The trick is to find the Big Dipper / The Plow (that easily recognizable shape of seven bright stars) and then draw a line diagonally toward the western horizon. Halfway to the end of this line is the approximate location of Comet NEOWISE this weekend.
Below are three star charts, one for the following 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 your binoculars to observe him
Hold your binoculars in your hands. You get your elbows out, don’t you? Draw your elbows so that they stick to the rib box. If you can, lean against a wall or tree. This will give you some stability and give you a chance to find it and have a constant view of the comet. You can even rest your binoculars on a wall, a rock or the top of a car.
Now decide where you think the comet is, using these graphs, and draw a line to the horizon. Now place your binoculars at this point and lift them towards the kite. Be patient and repeat until you have our friend blurred in your places.
The comet seems to be traveling towards the horizon: its tail climbs behind, further into the sky.
Tips for watching Comet NEOWISE
Peripheral vision of the human eye is most sensitive to brightness, while the center of the eye is most sensitive to color. So when you look at the comet through your binoculars, look slightly to the left or right, and its tail. This way, your peripheral vision will better detect its brightness. This technique is called “advanced vision”.
It also helps to adapt the eyes to the dark ones. Stay in a completely dark place for 20 minutes, and don’t look at your smartphone, and your pupils will dilate to let in as much light as possible. That way, you’ll see a lot more stars and see the comet more clearly.
Look for it as long as you can, as this big ball of ice hasn’t gone back 6,800 years.
Wishing you clean skies and wide eyes.