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It’s a great week for tracking comet Neowise

Comet Neowise is visible in the northwest sky for the next week
Comet Neowise is visible in the northwest sky for the next weekSky and Telescope

Perhaps you’ve heard that there is a newly discovered comet visible this summer and it’s time to take a look. This is a great activity for kids as well and you can either stay up late or set an alarm and get up early. Social distancing is easy with a comet millions of miles away.

This comet, named Neowise, will continue to be visible for the rest of the month and into August, but it is most visible this week with the naked eye.

We’ve already seen some stunning photography across the world. Most of the photos we’ve been seeing are of the comet during the early morning hours before dawn, but now it’s also going to be visible in the evening. A quick search of #Neowise and you will understand why this is so stunning and why you’ll want to try to check it out.

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Comet Neowise appeared over Oregon's Mount Washington in the night sky as seen from Dee Wright Observatory on McKenzie Pass east of Springfield, Ore., on Tuesday.
Comet Neowise appeared over Oregon's Mount Washington in the night sky as seen from Dee Wright Observatory on McKenzie Pass east of Springfield, Ore., on Tuesday.Chris Pietsch/Associated Press

You want to look toward the northwest, the best time is 10 p.m to 1 a.m. Find the Big Dipper, which is pretty easy to pick out, and look below it roughly the distance measured by three of your fists to find the comet.

One of the more amazing shots I have seen was taken over Stonehenge this week by Declan Deval on Instagram, featured on @decsphotos.

The comet got its name from the infrared space telescope that spotted it in late March this year. It’s been moving toward the sun for over 3,000 years, but it’s now visible. It won’t come around again for nearly 7 millennia, so don’t miss it this time.

Think of a comet as a dirty snowball of gasses, rocks, and other particles. As it moves toward, the sun the particles coming off the back of the comet become visible. It’s quite rare for us to be able to see a comet with the naked eye.

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Earthsky.org

As long as you are in the sky-watching mood, how about checking out some planets, too? If you are an early riser, you will be able to see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter in the predawn sky this month. Binoculars will help you see all of these planets, but the larger ones are visible with no visual aids.

Clear skies will help make tonight a great night to see all of these celestial wonders. The map below gives the percentage forecast of the sky that will have clouds; notice eastern Massachusetts will have very little cloud cover.

Cloud cover values for New England on Wednesday night.
Cloud cover values for New England on Wednesday night.WeatherBell

It will be quite hot this weekend, and Saturday night into Sunday morning also looks like a mainly clear night. This will be another night to view Neowise and perhaps even take some pictures.

Mainly clear skies are forecast Saturday night, July 18.
Mainly clear skies are forecast Saturday night, July 18.WeatherBell