How to Find Comet Neowise

The once-in-a-decade Comet Neowise is a spectacular sight in the evening skies from Vancouver.

Comet Neowise from Vancouver on July 15th 2020 at 10:30 PM PDT

Here are a few tips for finding the comet.

  • Check that the skies are at least partly clear – Vancouver’s Clear Sky Clock: provides a forecast of the cloud cover.
  • Try to find a dark site, away from city lights if possible, with a clear view to the north-west.
  • Look to the north-west, above the north-shore mountains.
  • The comet is visible a little after sundown starting around 10:00 pm.
  • It is low on the horizon – at approximately 15° or the width of your hand held out at arms length.
  • It is below the Big Dipper. Use the two bottom stars in the bucket of the Big Dipper as a pointer to the end of the tail.
  • The comet appears as a faint fuzzy streak to the naked eye.
  • The view is spectacular in binoculars. The tail is at least 5 degrees long so it fills most binocular’s field of view.
  • The comet moves down closer to the horizon as the it gets later at night.

The comet should be a nice sight for the next few weeks and there are some clear evening skies in the forecast so take the opportunity to have a look. Gary Boyle wrote an article in the Georgia Strait with more information & tips. The article includes the image below showing the progress of the comet during July.

Chart showing the progress of Comet NEOWISE across the night sky until the end of July 2020.STELLARIUM.ORG. Image Credit: Gary Boyle, Georgia Strait

The comet is a great target for photography so bring your camera and get some advice on taking your own photos in the article “A Beginner’s Guide To Photographing Comet Neowise “. Vancouver is Awesome has a great collection of photos from around Vancouver.

The comet will dim in absolute brightness as the month progresses because it is moving further away from the Sun. But it is moving higher in the sky and makes its closest approach on July 23rd so the views and contrast might still improve for another week.

Comet Neowise from Vancouver at its Closest Approach to Earth, July 23th 2020, at 10:30 PM PDT