SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - A newly discovered comet will be visible to the naked eye during the evening hours through the rest of the month here in the ArkLaTex.
Comet NEOWISE was first spotted in March by NASA’s NEOWISE infrared space telescope. After surviving a close encounter with the sun, the comet is now making it’s way past Earth in it’s trek around the solar system. It will be at it’s closest to us on July 23rd.
Comets are basically giant snowballs that travel in an orbit around the sun. They are composed of frozen gases, rock and dust. When they approach the sun during their orbit they heat up and develop a large glowing head. Dust and gas breaking away form the comet form a long tail away from the head.
Comet NEOWISE will be visible in the northwest sky about an hour or two after sunset (between 9 and 10pm) for the next few weeks. Right now, it’s very low on the horizon, so you’ll need an unobstructed view of the sky free of trees and buildings. Over the next couple of weeks it will climb higher in the evening sky and should become a little easier to spot.
Like it is with most astronomical objects, the darker the sky is, the better chance you’ll have of seeing it. Try to get as far away from city lights as possible. The comet will appear below the Big Dipper so use that as a reference to find it in the sky. While the head of the comet will be visible, you may need binoculars or a telescope in order to see the tail.
This will be a once in a lifetime viewing opportunity as NEOWISE won’t return for nearly 7,000 years!