Once-in-a-lifetime comet visible in Moore County

Comet NEOWISE is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a comet with the naked eye. It should be visible in Moore County through July 19. {Photo Provided}

It’s a once in a 6,800 year astronomical opportunity local stargazers won’t want to miss. Keep your eyes peeled now through July 19 for Comet NEOWISE as it makes a rare appearance that can be seen by the naked eye … but the window is closing quickly.

The three-mile wide comet began its trip near Earth on July 14. It is the first “great comet” to pass near Earth since the Hale-Bopp comet in 1997. The comet is named for the NASA mission that discovered it back in March. Its massive dust tail makes it appear as if it’s hurdling towards Earth … but don’t worry, it’s harmless.

According to local astronomer Billy Hix, the comet can be seen about an hour before sunrise or hour after sunset very low in the northern horizon.

“By July 19, it will be about two fist width (approximately 20 degrees) above the northwest horizon right after sunset. The comet is moving away from earth so it will be getting dimmer,” Hix said.

Luckily, rural areas without light pollution – like the rolling hills of Moore County – are the perfect place to view the comet. If you want to try and capture an image, use a tripod and a long exposure.

Newowise’s closest approach to Earth comes on July 22, at a distance of about 64 million miles. To view a NASA video on how to spot the comet, click here. To check out the International Space Station’s view of the one-in-a-lifetime comet, click here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Leave a Reply