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Comet NEOWISE goes from red to green and has spiral arms

21 Jul 2020, 13:00 UTC
Comet NEOWISE goes from red to green and has spiral arms
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The comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) is brightening up the northern sky right now, a once-in-a-decade (or longer) sight. I've been out after sunset to see it and found it easily without any optical aid, and in fact the tail is visible to the naked eye as well. It helps to have a dark site with no lights around, but even if you're in a place where light pollution isn't great it's still worth grabbing a pair of binoculars and taking a look.

My article from last week gives advice on how to see it. If you can, go look! It's getting closer to Earth and reaches perigee (closest approach) on 23 July. It's best to see it that night, but any day this week is fine viewing.

The photos of the comet coming in are nothing short of jaw-dropping. And, to my rational delight, there's lots of science in them, too.

For example, check this out:

The red ion tail, likely due to colors mixing from sodium and carbon monoxide emission, is clearly seen in this photo taken on 12 July 2020. Credit: Dr. Sebastian Voltmer / www.astrofilm.com

That photo was taken by Dr. Sebastian Voltmer on 12 July 2020 ...

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