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20 mins for next 20 days: Here's how stargazers in India can view rare Neowise comet with naked eyes 

The rarity of the comet makes it more special as it will be about 7,000 years before the it returns.

Published: 12th July 2020 06:55 PM  |   Last Updated: 12th July 2020 06:55 PM   |  A+A-

The Comet NEOWISE or C/2020 F3 is seen above Salgotarjan, Hungary, early Friday, July 10, 2020.

The Comet NEOWISE or C/2020 F3 is seen above Salgotarjan, Hungary, early Friday, July 10, 2020. (Photo | AP)

By Agencies

A newly discovered comet is streaking past Earth, providing a stunning nighttime show after buzzing the sun and expanding its tail.

Comet Neowise — the brightest comet visible from the Northern Hemisphere in a quarter-century — swept within Mercury’s orbit a week ago. Its close proximity to the sun caused dust and gas to burn off its surface and create an even bigger debris tail. Now the comet is headed our way, with closest approach in two weeks.

NASA's Neowise infrared space telescope discovered the comet in March.

The comet will be visible across the Northern Hemisphere until mid-August, when it heads back toward the outer solar system. While it's visible with the naked eye in dark skies with little or no light pollution, binoculars are needed to see the long tail, according to NASA.

In India, the star will be clearly visible after sunset.

"From July 14, C/2020 F3, a comet discovered on March 27, will be clearly visible in the north-western sky," said Dr. Subhendu Pattnaik, Deputy Director, Pathani Samanta Planetarium, Bhuvaneswar. told ANI.

It will be visible after sunset for around 20 minutes for the next 20 days. People can observe it from naked eyes, he added.

"A far better viewing perspective will be available in the evening sky starting around July 14, when it will appear low in the northwest sky (20 degrees from the horizon) for around 20 minutes. In the evenings to follow, the comet will rapidly climb higher in the sky and will be visible for a longer period," said the Deputy Director.

Scientists involved in the mission said the comet is about 3 miles (5 kilometers) across. Its nucleus is covered with sooty material dating back to the origin of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago.

It will be about 7,000 years before the comet returns, “so I wouldn't suggest waiting for the next pass,” said the telescope's deputy principal investigator Joe Masiero of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

He said it is the brightest comet since the mid-1990s for stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere.

Comets are cosmic snowballs of frozen gases, rock and dust that orbit the Sun in a highly elliptical path. When frozen, they are of the size of a few hundred kilometers may be compared with the size of a small town.

(With AP, ANI inputs)

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