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A Newly Found Comet Is Here

Neowise could be visible into August
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 10, 2020 1:19 PM CDT

(Newser) – A newly discovered comet is streaking past Earth, providing a stunning show for skywatchers, per the AP. Comet Neowise swept within Mercury’s orbit a week ago, and its close proximity to the sun caused dust and gas to burn off its surface and create an even bigger debris tail. Now the comet is headed our way, with closest approach in two weeks. The comet will be visible around the world until mid-August, when it heads back toward the outer solar system. While it's visible with the naked eye in dark skies with little or no light pollution, binoculars are needed to see the long tail, according to NASA. Skywatchers have spotted it the predawn hours above the northeast horizon, per Space.com, but on Saturday or Sunday it will begin appearing in the northwest evening sky just after sunset. (See this column and the Verge for more on that.)

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NASA's Neowise infrared space telescope discovered the comet in March. Scientists involved in the mission said the comet is about 3 miles across. Its nucleus is covered with sooty material dating back to the origin of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have already caught a glimpse. NASA's Bob Behnken shared a spectacular photo of the comet on social media late Thursday, showing central Asia in the background and the space station in the foreground. "Stars, cities, spaceships, and a comet!" he tweeted from orbit. (Read more comet stories.)

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