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Rare Comet ‘Neowise’ Passes Earth Once in Thousands of Years, Photographed Above Hungary

Fanni Kaszás 2020.07.14.

The comet named ‘Neowise’ passes Earth every five thousand years. The rare celestial phenomenon is happening now and it was detected in Hungary on Tuesday at dawn. Hungarian news agency MTI‘s photographers Tamás Sóki and Péter Komka captured images of the comet in Pécs and above Lake Balaton in the clear July sky.

photo: Tamás Sóki/MTI

Although the comet Neowise will only pass by the Earth next time in five thousand years, it is still possible for those who did not wake up at dawn or haven’t seen it to observe it in the coming weeks. It can be seen until the beginning of August, the exact dates and ideal places of observation can be found on the website of the Hungarian Astronomical Society.

photo: Tamás Sóki/MTI

The ideal circumstances are really important when trying to spot the comet, as it is not possible to observe Neowise against a dark celestial background since its elongation (the angular separation between the Sun and the comet, with Earth as the reference point) is small, around 15 degrees at the time of the first domestic observations.

photo: Péter Komka/MTI

However, the good news is that the comet’s solar range is improving rapidly, reaching 30 degrees on July 19th. From tomorrow, for example, its visibility will also improve, and from July 15th, the comet will be visible in the early evening sky as well. According to the Hungarian Astronomical Society, the detection of the comet requires a very good northern horizon with a clear sky. The comet can be best detected on the nights following cold fronts.

photo: Tamás Sóki/MTI

To identify the Neowise comet, the Sky and Telescope search map, which shows the comet’s July celestial path, is very useful. In the last third of the month, the comet can be observed at the “feet” of the Great Bear (Ursa Major) constellation, in the early evening sky. By this time, the position of the comet above the horizon will improve a lot. The brightness of the comet was around +1 magnitude in the beginning of July, while in mid-July it is expected to reach 2.0-2.5 magnitude – it is best noticeable at that time – and it will dim to 5 magnitude by the end of the month.

photo: Péter Komka/MTI

Last night and at dawn, the comet and its plume looked great in an almost cloudless sky in Hungary, as photographers of Hungarian news agency MTI recorded in several shots.

photo: Tamás Sóki/MTI

photo: Tamás Sóki/MTI

photo: Tamás Sóki/MTI

photo: Péter Komka/MTI

photo: Péter Komka/MTI

featured photo: Tamás Sóki/MTI