Dubai: Stargazers will be able to watch a rare comet over the next week – as it will not be sighted again for almost another 7,000 years.
Observers hoping to catch a glimpse of Comet Neowise can do so until July 31 before it zips through the inner solar system and 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 will be closest to Earth on July 22-23, 2020. It will pass at around 103 million km from our planet.
Comet Neowise will put on a dazzling display for skywatchers before it disappears, not to be seen again for another 6,800 years, according to the Dubai Astronomy Group.
What is it?
A comet is an icy, small solar system body that, when passing close to the Sun, warms and begins to release gases, a process called outgassing. This produces a visible atmosphere or coma, and sometimes also a tail. These phenomena are due to the effects of solar radiation and the solar wind acting upon the nucleus of the comet. Comet nuclei range from a few hundred meters to tens of kilometres across and are composed of loose collections of ice, dust, and small rocky particles. The coma may be up to 15 times Earth’s diameter, while the tail may stretch one astronomical unit.
One astronomical unit is equivalent to 149.6 million kilometres.
How to view Comet Neowise (C/2020 F3)
The comet is now an evening object, rising increasingly higher above the northwestern horizon.
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 at the direction of the Ursa Major constellation.
- If you have them, bring binoculars or a small telescope to get the best views of this dazzling display, naked eye observation is also fine.
The best time to view Comet Neowise in Dubai
- July 21: 7.53 pm Northwest
- July 22: 7.50 pm Northwest
- July 23: 7.48 pm Northwest
- July 24: 7.47 pm Northwest
- July 25: 7.46 pm West Northwest
- July 26: 7.46 pm West Northwest
- July 27: 7.45 pm West Northwest
- July 28: 7.49 pm West Northwest
- July 29: 7.55 pm West Northwest
- July 30: 8 pm West Northwest
- July 31: 8.06 pm West Northwest
Source: Dubai Astronomy Group