Comet Neowise now visible in the northern skies of SE Saskatchewan

Stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere, including in southeast Saskatchewan, have been able to see one of the brightest comets in skies since 1997 when comet Hale-Bopp appeared. The Neowise comet (catalogued C/2020 F3), has been most visible about an hour and a half before sunrise in the northeast sky, but after July 11 it will become more visible about an hour or two after sunset. 

(Shown above are photos of the comet by Greg Nikkel, taken from north of Weyburn early on July 12.)

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The comet arrived at perihelion on July 3, coming to within 27.7 million miles (44.5 million km) of the sun and is now heading back out to the outer reaches of space. The comet has appeared to rise tail-first, followed by its bright head or coma, shining as bright as a first-magnitude star.

After July 13, Neowise will drop rapidly lower and swing more toward the north-northeast. By July 18, it will appear five degrees above the horizon at the start of twilight, and only a few mornings later its altitude will be too low to see it at all in pre-sunrise sky.

The comet is visible to the naked eye, provided sky conditions are good, but the use of binoculars or a telescope will bring it in even better.

The astronomy website, Space.com, said in a recent post they “feel that the best time to view the comet during the evening will come during the July 14-19 time frame.”

They also strongly recommend that observers should seek the most favorable conditions by avoiding thin horizon clouds, haze, humid air, smoke, twilight glow and especially city lights.

“We especially emphasize that last factor: the farther away you get from a metropolitan area, the darker your sky and the better your view of Neowise," said the website.

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