By Montana Grant

Posted: July 16, 2020

My favorite Comet story is about the Haley’s Comet. This frequent flier can be seen from Earth every 76 years. Mark Twain was born on the day of the Comets arrival and departed with it 76 years later.

I wonder who will be born upon the arrival of the NEOWISE, Great Comet of 2020? Native peoples have always seen celestial symbols as signs of what is to come. They mark moments of change and opportunity. Perhaps the NEOWISE will help smarten Earthlings up a bit!

To see the NEOWISE Comet, check out the NW sky 80 minutes after sunset. Locate the Big Dipper. Imagine a line being drawn from the bottom 2 stars of the ladle and travel 3 fists down to the horizon. This is where the Comet can be seen. Do not expect to see a whizzing flame streaking across the sky. The Comet will appear as a small star until you use binoculars or a spotting scope. Binoculars will confirm a forked tail.

In the early morning, between 4-5am, look in the NE sky. Find Venus and travel North toward the horizon. Look for any significant bright star that appears about the same size and brightness as the stars in the Big Dipper.

The Comet will be the brightest on July 22-23 when it is 64 million miles from Earth. There is no danger that the Comet will impact he Earth. As the days progress, the Comet will appear higher off the horizon until it is maybe 30 degrees. Mountains and trees may block your neighborhood view, so altitude is helpful.

If you snooze you lose! The next time this comet will visit Earth is 6,800 years from now!

Montana Grant

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