Comet Neowise: The best times to spot the interstellar object as it makes its closest approach past Earth this week

Anyone who has been keeping a close eye on the night skies this month might have spotted Comet Neowise among the stars.

The comet is heading past Earth and its closest approach is expected on Thursday (July 23) – if you can call 64 million miles close.

Some of our readers have already sent in these brilliant photos of the comet, which show it is already visible to the naked eye.

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Steve Bassett, from Worthing Astronomers, explained Comet C/2020 F3 (Neowise) steadily brightened as it approached the Sun and travelled around it, and has now reached a brightness that allows us to see it without using binoculars or a telescope.

John and Jean from Coastal JJ sent in this picture of Comet Neowise over the South Downs at 3am last Sunday

He said: “It’s visible north by north west after sunset (from about 11pm) and moves around to a more north by north east direction before sunrise.

“Although visible from around 11pm it’s quite low on the horizon. The best time to see it is around 1.30am if you have a clear sky and a good northern horizon.”

Steve also said Neowise will not return to the inner solar system for another 6,800 years.

The comet moved into the constellation of Ursa Major, the Great Bear, last Wednesday, and should be just to the right of The Plough on July 23.

Steve Bassett took this picture of Comet Neowise

Announcing its discovery, NASA said: “A comet has suddenly become visible to the unaided eye.

“Comet C/2020 F3 (Neowise) was discovered in late March and brightened as it reached its closest approach to the Sun, inside the orbit of Mercury, late last week.

“The interplanetary iceberg survived solar heating, so far, and is now becoming closer to the Earth as it starts its long trek back to the outer Solar System.

“As Comet Neowise became one of the few naked-eye comets of the 21st century, word spread quickly, and the comet has already been photographed behind many famous sites and cities around the globe.”

Edward O'Neill took this photo of Comet Neowise in the night sky

Share your own snaps of Comet Neowise – email your photos to [email protected] along with your name and a brief description of where and when you took it.

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John and Jean from Coastal JJ sent in this picture of Comet Neowise over Medmerry Mill in Selsey

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