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A comet arrived from the confines of our solar system has become, for the moment, in the night show more beautiful this summer. The object, the brightest of its class of the past seven years, you can be observed to simple view these days, before dawn and in the evening from the 14th of July. If you have the opportunity of looking at it, not let it pass before our extraordinary visitor takes his way back only to be lost again in the cold darkness of space in the middle of August.
Officially called C/2020 F3 , the comet was captured for the first time by the space telescope of NASA’s Neowise on the 27th of march. It comes from the Oort cloud and the last Friday (3 July), made its closest approach to the Sun. That proximity to our star and within the orbit of Mercury is heating up the outer layers of the comet causing gas and dust to sprout from the ice surface and create a long tail of debris. Precisely what we all want to see.
people who wish to take a look at the object shining must get up before the dawn. According to Roberto Bravo, director of the company Astroafición, dedicated to the dissemination of astronomy, the best time for observation goes from 5.00 to 5.45 pm, to take advantage of the darkness before the dawn. We must look to the horizon north-east, between 30º and 40º to the right of the North. The comet will appear very close to the horizon and will be gaining height until the 14th of July, reaching a magnitude of 2, easily visible to the naked eye. From that day, it will be visible at sunset, but its glow will be ever smaller and will be more difficult to observe with the naked eye. The 23 of July will make its closest approach to the Earth (0,69 UA or 103 million kilometers) but by then it will be in the magnitude of 3.5, so to see it at a glance it will be a challenge and will take the hand of the binoculars until the end of the month.
Position of the comet on the horizon – AstroAficiónLuz whitish
The comet will be “with a core of whitish light very bright, much more than a star, and a queue ionized upward, that is the gas is blowing away,” explains Bravo. The tail is very faint and will fade until they disappear. To the naked eye, “occupies the width of one or two fingers”. For the observation, the expert of AstroAfición recommended to search for a horizon clear, without trees or buildings that may bother us.
“In your images of discovery, the comet NEOWISE appeared as a bright point and diffuse moving through the sky even when it was still pretty far”, says in a press release Amy Mainzer, principal investigator of NEOWISE at the University of Arizona. “As soon as we saw how close that would be the Sun, we had hoped that it would present a good show,” he says.
During its approach harmless to the Earth, astronomers will have the opportunity to learn more about its composition and structure. “From his signature near-infrared (observed by the mission NEOWISE), we can say that it has a 5 km wide, and combining the infrared data with visible light imaging, we can say that the comet’s nucleus is covered with dark particles of soot that are left of their formation close to the birth of our solar system makes 4,600 million years,” said Joseph Masiero, principal investigator deputy of NEOWISE at the jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of NASA in southern California.
But first of all, as explains Bravo, “to see a comet to the naked eye is something extraordinary and rare . Can take decades to entire without any comet visible to the naked eye and then appear several in a row for a few years. In the 12 years that I have been dedicated to this, I have seen only two to the naked eye”.