Comet Should Be Visible in the Dark Sky
We haven't yet seen it ourselves, but a comet has brightened in the night sky. Reports are coming in from around the world about the appearance of Comet Neowise. Without magnification it should look like a thin smudge in the early morning sky. With binoculars or a backyard telescope, you should be able to see the comet and its tail. Observers are reporting the comet in the northeast sky and you should view it about 90 minutes before sunrise. (Yeah, that's pretty darn early this time of year.) Look to the northeast and you'll see the planet Venus. It's bright. Along the horizon north of Venus is the bright star Capella. To the lower left of Capella will be the comet. You may need binoculars to spot it. By the way, it was not named after the main character in the Matrix movies. It was discovered in March by an orbiting telescope - the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer - NEOWISE.
After July 14, viewing the comet is better in the evening. Look to the northwestern sky an hour after sunset. It will be below the Big Dipper. Astronomers are not sure how much longer it will be visible. It passed by the Sun July 3rd and will be closest to Earth on the 22nd, but the farther away from the Sun it gets, the dimmer its tail should be. But, what the heck - take a look anyway. The astronomers have figured out its loop around the Sun and the next time it comes near the Earth will be about 7,000 years from now - give or take a century or two. A final note - the Perseid Meteor Shower will peak August 12th, but you'll see some shooting stars at least a week or two before that date. Here in Montana, there are some great dark places to see the night sky.