What's Up for July 13-19

Comet NEOWISE moves to the evening sky, SpaceX plans a launch and look for the ISS

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Everything you need to measure the sky is right in your hands
Tony Rice
, NASA Amassador

Visibility of Comet C/2020 F3/ (NEOWISE) is shifting from the northeastern morning sky to the north west after dusk as its orbit takes it away from the Sun. It will be a bit dimmer than last week, a dark sky and binoculars can help spot it.

Early risers can still see it through Wednesday but for less time and progressively lower to the horizon. The good news is that comet will be spending more time above the horizon during evening hours as the comet becomes visible around nautical dusk, when the Sun has set 12 degrees below the horizon.

Usual mid-July weather patterns are expected each evening this week with a threat of later afternoon thunderstorms. Cloud cover forecasts from both the National Weather Service and Environment Canada are suggesting Wednesday evening as the best opportunity to spot the comet.

Also look for Jupiter in the southeastern sky this week. It is at opposition, directly opposite the Sun from our perspective on Earth, making it appear particularly bright.

You can approximate angular separation between the horizon, stars, planets, moons, etc. by stretching out your hand.  This works for adults and children because our arms and hands grow pretty much proportionaly.

Monday, July 13

Look for Comet NEOWISE low in the northwestern sky beginning around 10 pm about 2 degrees above the horizon. That's about the width of two fingers held at arms length. The comet will disappear below the horizon at 10:24 pm.

If you are in a darker, rural area, look to the west southwest shortly after 9:32 pm for the Hubble Space Telescope to rise. It reaches just below 30 degrees above the horizon before setting in the southeast five minutes later.

Tuesday, July 14

The comet will rise at 4:00 am and rise to about four degrees above the horizon before the rising Sun hides NEOWISE by around 4:30 am.

The International Space Station will pass directly over our area beginning at 10:00 pm from the southwest, setting in the northeast about 6 minutes later. Also look for Jupiter and Saturn lower in the southeast. A few minutes later, Comet NEOWISE should begin coming into view about 3 degrees above the horizon as the sky continues to darken. The comet will set at 1046 pm.

Update: SpaceX announced Monday afternoon that the launch of a South Korean military satellite planned for Tuesday evening was being postponed for closer inspection of the rocket's second stage. A new launch date has not been annouced.

The ISS will pass over beginning at 10 pm on July 14, 2020

Wednesday, July 15

The ISS will rise in the southwest at 9:12pm for a six minute pass. Comet NEOWISE will begin coming into view five degrees above the horizon at 10:16 pm in the northwest, setting at 11:08 pm.

Northrop Grumman plans a launch for the National Reconnaissance Office from NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia. It is not expected to be visible from central North Carolina.

Thursday, July 16

Comet NEOWISE will begin coming into view six degrees above the horizon at 10:22 pm, setting at 11:29 pm.

Friday, July 17

The ISS will pass directly over our area again, rising from the west southwest at 9:13 pm, setting in the northeast six minutes later. Look for Comet NEOWISE eight degrees above the horizon beginning at 10:28 pm, setting at 11:49 pm.

Comet NEOWISE visibility

northeastern horizon evening

northwestern horizon

Mon 7/13 4:00 am - 4:38 am 10:04 pm - 10:24 pm Tue 7/14 4:03 am - 4:32 am 10:10 pm - 10:46 pm Wed 7/15 4:08 am - 4:26 am 10:16 pm - 11:08 pm Thu 7/16 4:16 am - 4:20 am 10:22 pm - 11:29pm Fri 7/17 not visible 10:28 pm - 11:49 pm

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