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Richmond perfect place to spot Comet NEOWISE

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 4:35 PDT, Thu July 16, 2020

Comet NEOWISE is currently visible from the Northern Hemisphere—but won’t be for much longer.

And Richmond is ideally located, with clear views of the right area of the sky. Find a dark spot—such as the West Dyke—away from city lights, and look northwest below the Big Dipper. 

“Comets are the icy and rocky leftovers from planet building,” says Dr. Aaron Boley, associate professor in UBC’s department of physics and astronomy. “When we see a comet’s tail in the sky, we witness the release of material that has been hidden away since the formation of the solar system itself.”

Comet NEOWISE was discovered on March 27 by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission. 

It’s visible to the naked eye, but you’ll get a better view with binoculars or a small telescope. Once the comet disappears, it won’t be seen again for 6,800 years.

“Bright comets, such as NEOWISE, are rare, and are a special and inspiring natural wonder to see in the night sky,” says Boley. “You’ll only get to see a few in your lifetime, so go out and look for yourself.”

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