A comet showing a wispy tail will have a slight approach to Earth this month, and sky enthusiasts are already watching it from the Island.
It is Comet C / 2020 F3 (NEOWISE), which was at its closest point to the Sun on July 3. Although many comets disintegrate when feeling the intense heat of the Sun, NEOWISE survived its approach to our star after passing 26.7 million miles (43 million km) from the Sun, that is, a little closer than the average orbit of Mercury. , noted the Caribbean Astronomy Society (SAC).
Víctor Rivera, one of the SAC astrophotographers, captured images of the comet during sunrise Tuesday and explained that although it may be slightly appreciated with the naked eye, it is much better located and observed through binoculars.
The educational entity indicated that the NEOWISE comet is located this week near the Northeast horizon, and can be captured between 5:00 am and 5:20 am, that is, just while it is dawn.
“The good news is that if the comet maintains a brightness close to current, it could soon be visible in the night sky, as it will appear shortly after sunset between July 15 and 17, this time on the northwest horizon, and gradually It will look somewhat higher in the sky for the rest of the month, said Eddie Irizarry, SAC vice president.
However, he emphasized that the best views of the celestial visitor can be seen through binoculars, while also indicating that the portal SociedadAstronomia.com It has illustrations that make it easier to locate the comet.
It is anticipated that between July 22 and 23, NEOWISE will have its closest approach to Earth, when it will be passing a totally safe distance of 64 million miles (103 million km) from our planet.
“Many of these comets we see only once in our lives, and in the case of NEOWISE, after this approach in July, the next time it will approach Earth it will be around 8,786,” said the educational entity. .
Comet C / 2020 F3 (NEOWISE) was discovered on March 27, 2020 from about 326 miles (525 km) above the Earth’s surface by the “Near Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), a space telescope launched by NASA in 2009. The SAC explained that comets are celestial bodies somewhat similar to asteroids (space rocks) but with a cover of dust and ice. On several occasions it has been possible to detect water vapor and gases coming from inside them. When they feel the heat of the Sun, the ice sublimes, forming the peculiar tail that we see in comets. He added that most of the more than 4,100 comets detected so far, come from the so-called “Oort” cloud, in remote areas on the outskirts of our Solar System.