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The NEOWISE Comet on Utah Skies

Tom Westre

In 2007 NASA proposed a mission to look for New Earth Objects. The name of the mission was called the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). In late 2004 NASA selected the Space Dynamics Laboratory at Utah State University to build the telescope for WISE. WISE successfully launched in December of 2009.

Since that time WISE has discovered over 260 near earth objects, some are potentially hazardous to the earth. Among these objects NEOWISE has discovered over 28 comets.

In March 2020 astronomers, using NEOWISE discovered Comet NEOWISE.

By July of this year it was one of the brightest comets to be seen from Earth since Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997.

Comet Neowise is now seen in the evening sky after the sun sets. It’s best seen in binoculars if you look north north west just below the bowl of the Big Dipper. The comet will closest to the Earth on July 22 at a distance of 63 million miles from Earth. After July 22 the comet gets dimmer as it moves away from Earth.

Be sure to see it now because it won’t return for another 6,800 years.

Happy Comet Hunting.