How to see Comet NEOWISE in New Mexico: NASA tips for stargazers

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NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Comet NEOWISE is putting on a dazzling display for skywatchers in the Northern Hemisphere. The comet will be closest to Earth on July 23, just 64 million miles away.

This once in a life-time event is something you don’t want to miss. The comet will not return to Earth’s skies for about 6,800 years. Each night the comet is rising increasingly higher above the northwestern horizon. This means the best time to see the comet is on July 23 since it will be the closest to Earth.

How to see NEOWISE in New Mexico Skies

For those hoping to see Comet NEOWISE for themselves, NASA suggests you do: 

  • 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 the comet.

You might also want to use a mobile app to find Comet NEOWISE. Mobile apps like SkySafari for iOS and Android can display comet NEOWISE’s position in the sky with your location, according to

In SkySafari app, tap the Search icon and select the Brightest Comets option. Then look for the entry for Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) and tap it. Make sure you select the comet that includes “F3” because there are a lot of comets named NEOWISE. The information page for the comet will also tell you when it rises and sets at your location.

To display the comet’s position in the sky using the app, tap the Center icon. If you want to check on the comet’s visibility where you live, tap the Time icon. If the comet becomes hidden behind the app’s built-in horizon panorama, go to the Settings menu, choose Horizon and Sky, and set the Horizon Display option to Translucent Area. You can also use the apps compass mode to show you where the comet is.

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

About the Comet NEOWISE

On March 27 the comet was discovered by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer mission, which is why it was given the name NEOWISE. Its closest approach to Earth will be on July 23 at a distance of about 64 million miles, according to NASA.

From mid-July to mid-August the comet is expected to visible and best viewed during the evening. As of July 16, the comet survived its recent closest approach to the Sun, and now headed back toward the outer solar system, where it travels to a farthest distance of 715 astronomical units from the sun.

Comet NEOWISE takes about 6,800 years to make one lap its orbit, so it won’t visit the inner solar system again for many thousands of years.

How to take a photo of Comet NEOWISE?

A camera that has manual settings so you can control aperture, ISO, shutter speed and focus like DSLR or mirrorless cameras can help you capture a good image, according to Forbes.

NASA Tips on Taking Photographs of Meteor Showers and Comets

  1. Choose your photo op
  2. Get away from city lights and find a place with dark skies
  3. Use a tripod
  4. Use a wide-angle lens
  5. Use a shutter release cable or the camera’s built-in timer
  6. Manually focus your lens
  7. Aim your camera
  8. Calculate your exposure time

Images of Comet NEOWISE captured by NASA missions: 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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