How to spot Comet Neowise in the night sky during July - and when it will be most visible in the UK

The comet's closest approach is expected on 23 July (Photo: Shutterstock)The comet's closest approach is expected on 23 July (Photo: Shutterstock)
The comet's closest approach is expected on 23 July (Photo: Shutterstock)

A new comet has been spotted streaking across the night skies around the world, and will be visible here in the UK throughout July.

Comet Neowise was discovered by NASA in March by the NEOWISE space telescope and can be seen millions of miles away from Earth, thanks to its huge trail of dust and ice.

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When will it be visible?

The comet is heading past Earth and will be near enough to allow people to spot it, with its closest approach expected on 23 July.

Even at its closest distance, it will still be around 64 million miles, or 103 million kilometres, away.

Such a distance is around 400 times further than the moon, but it should still be visible even without using binoculars or a telescope to spot it.

The comet will continue to be visible throughout the entire month of July, giving stargazers plenty of opportunity to catch a glimpse.

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Announcing its discovery, NASA said: “A comet has suddenly become visible to the unaided eye.

"Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) was discovered in late March and brightened as it reached its closest approach to the Sun, inside the orbit of Mercury, late last week.

"The interplanetary iceberg survived solar heating, so far, and is now becoming closer to the Earth as it starts its long trek back to the outer Solar System.

"As Comet NEOWISE became one of the few naked-eye comets of the 21st Century, word spread quickly, and the comet has already been photographed behind many famous sites and cities around the globe."

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How can I see it in the UK?

Comet Neowise will be visible in the northern hemisphere, including the UK, just before sunrise and after sunset throughout July.

It can be most easily spotted at around 2.30am in the north-east sky from any location in the country, just above the horizon.

It should be visible to see with the naked eye, but using binoculars, or a telescope if you have one, will help to offer a clearer view. To find it, you will need to look to the lower left of the bright star called Capella.

The comet is currently in the constellation called Auriga, and by mid-July it will have moved through to the constellation of Lynx and into Ursa Major, the Great Bear, on 17 July.

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It will then be seen underneath the group of stars known as the Big Dipper, or Plough.

From the middle of July onwards, Comet Neowise will then be visible all through the night, but it will always be low in the sky and in a northerly direction.

It will then disappear out of sight as it travels deeper into the solar system.

Downloading a night sky app onto your phone, such as SkyView, can help you to pick out the right constellation.

However, visibility could be tricky due to the light mornings and evenings during the summer.

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