A surprise comet that has continued to light up the sky worldwide well into summer—which may not be seen again until 8786, according to experts—has been snapped by the camera in Bataan, west of Manila, facing the Philippine Sea.
According to the Washington, D.C.-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the comet’s close approach to the sun was cooking its outermost layers, causing gas and dust on the surface to stream away and create a tail of debris
The comet, officially known as C/2020 F3, was spotted by NASA’s NEOWISE – an acronym for Near Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer – satellite in March this year and is expected to remain visible to the naked eye throughout July.
While astrologers cannot precisely predict when and where the ‘surprise’ comet can be spotted, it’s suggested to take a look outside approximately 80 minutes before sunrise and 80 minutes after sunset—and it’s recommended skywatchers make the effort to do so, as the comet may not be visible again until the year 8786.
The elusive comet was located 194 million miles (312.2 kms) from the sun, and did not hold a second thought to the astronomers who had first discovered the comet—until it survived the flyby approach to the sun and began appearing as a perfectly circular object, visible with only the naked eye, comet experts said.
“Theoretically, the comet shouldn’t still be brightening noticeably, as its distance to the sun is undergoing only a small reduction day-to-day at this point, making me think that the comet’s current brightness is not being governed mainly by its distance from the sun but, rather it is experiencing some manner of progressive slow outburst,” comet expert John Bortle of Stormville, New York, told Space.com.
The comet may become even more visible in the evening sky as soon as July 12.
The comet has been spotted in Russia, Australia, and the United States, and will make its closest approach to Earth between July 12 and July 25.
“The comet continues to be stunning, rising tail first over the plateau, some 20 miles distant,” astrophotographer Chris Schur told Space.com in a statement.
Those in the northern hemisphere can catch this comet in the north sky for most of the month at early dawn and dusk.
Comets often appear faint in the sky, so it is easiest to catch a glimpse in the early morning and evening, when there is just enough sunlight to see them against the night sky, but not so much they are washed out.
“For the northern hemisphere, it’s very low to the horizon in the early morning,” says Karl Battams, an astrophysicist with the Naval Research Laboratory.