Tips on how to see the Comet NEOWISE. First piece of advice? Get outside Birmingham.

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Comet NEOWISE as seen from Argo, Alabama. Photo courtesy of Warren Amos

Have you caught Comet NEOWISE mania?  I have.

This month, skywatchers like me have been treated to the brightest cosmic iceball to fly by  planet Earth since 1997. In fact, the comet can be seen without binoculars or a telescope, but both are recommended to enhance your viewing pleasure.  

Discovered this past March by NASA, Comet NEOWISE will travel closest to Earth this week on July 22- 23. It will get dimmer after those dates, but should still be visible as we enter the month of August. Once it disappears, our next visit will happen 6000+ years from today.

Tips on NEOWISE Skywatching

Comet NEOWISE in Alabama. Photo courtesy of Martin Rodriquez

So, how do you see Comet NEOWISE?

Before Mid-July the comet was visible only in the morning.  Now, it can be seen in the Northern Hemisphere and Birmingham after the sun sets.  

If the skies are clear (and that’s hit and miss this week in Central Alabama) here are NASA’s 3 simple Comet NEOWISE watching tips.

  • Find a spot away from city lights with an unobstructed view of the sky
  • Just after sunset, look below the Big Dipper in the northwest sky
  • If you have them, bring binoculars or a small telescope to get the best views of this dazzling display

According to NASA, each night the comet will continue rising increasingly higher above the northwestern horizon as illustrated in the below graphic:

kychart showing the location of Comet C/2020 F3 just after sunset, July 15 through 23. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

My biggest takeaway. If you live in the Birmingham Metro area, get out of town away from the city lights. 

Warren Amos who provided Bham Now a photo taken in Argo, Alabama of the comet says it’s high in the sky between 9-11.

“Go have a late night snack in a dark area with a view of the horizon towards the northwest. Look toward the bottom of Ursa Major.”

Want to learn more about Comet NEOWISE – check out NASA’s Science Live, a 30 minute program that answers all your questions and answers from the scientists who discovered and study this comet.

Got Photos for Bham Now?

Bham Now would love to see your photos of the Comet NEOWISE.  Feel free to tag us on our social media. 

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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