Stargazers are in for a treat this week as Comet NEOWISE and the International Space Station are both visible from the UK this week. Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE has been visible in the northern skies this month after it was first discovered by a NASA space telescope on March 27. Since then, the comet has survived a flyby of the Sun and made its closest approach of about 64 million miles to Earth on Thursday, July 23.
Astronomers all across the Northern Hemisphere have been tracking the comet’s movements with great interest.
But the comet has already started to fade and once it passes out of sight, it will not return for at least 6,800 years.
Newcastle-based astronomer David Blanchflowert tweeted on Sunday, July 26: “Over one hour until #cometNEOWISE is faintly visible over the UK.
“Probably best to look for using binoculars now. Especially from an urban environment.”
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How to see Comet NEOWISE over the UK:
The next few days might be your last chance to see Comet NEOWISE before it becomes too faint.
Look for the comet in the west-northwest skies, close to the Big Dipper or Plough asterism.
The Big Dipper is formed of seven bright stars in the constellation Ursa Major.
Grab a pair of binoculars or a small telescope to pinpoint the comet’s location.
Do try this week – it won’t be back for almost 7,000 years
Stuart Atkinson, Society for Popular Astronomy
Binoculars will also help you see more detail in the comet’s split tail.
Look for Comet NEOWISE after sunset and check your local weather forecast to make sure the skies will be clear of clouds.
If possible, find a viewing spot with an unobstructed view of the horizon and avoid sources of light pollution, such as street lamps and buildings.
Stuart Atkinson of the Society for Popular Astronomy said: “So, if you haven’t seen F3 yet do try this week – it won’t be back for almost 7,000 years.”
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How to see the International Space Station over the UK:
The International Space Station will make a few passes over the UK this week and will be visible for a few minutes at a time.
According to the US space agency NASA, there will be potential sighting opportunities between Monday and Friday, when viewed from London.
You can visit NASA’s official ISS tracker to see when the space station will be visible from your location.
On Monday, July 27, look for the ISS in the western skies at 9.44pm and 11.19pm.
The ISS should be visible as a fast-moving speck of light for five minutes and two minutes respectively.
On Tuesday, July 28, look for the ISS above the western horizon at 10.31pm. The ISS should be visible for about four minutes.
On Wednesday, July 29, the ISS should be visible for about five minutes and one minute from 9.44pm and 11.29pm, respectively, in the western and southwestern skies.
On Thursday, July 30, the ISS will cross the west-southwest skies for about three minutes from 10.33pm.
On Friday, July 31, look above the western horizon from 9.45pm for five minutes.
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