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LOOK: Brightest comet for more than 20 years spotted in Suffolk skies

PUBLISHED: 12:10 11 July 2020 | UPDATED: 13:40 11 July 2020

Comet Neowise is will appear dimmer later in July, but should have a orange-coloured head and a tail in the 'two o'clock' position when seen in the sky Picture: GARY EDWARDS

Comet Neowise is will appear dimmer later in July, but should have a orange-coloured head and a tail in the 'two o'clock' position when seen in the sky Picture: GARY EDWARDS

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Budding astronomers have spotted a comet blazing through the night sky above Suffolk – did you see Comet Neowise?

Gary Edwards spotted the comet in the skies above Shotley on July 10, but budding astronomers can see the comet all month Picture: GARY EDWARDSGary Edwards spotted the comet in the skies above Shotley on July 10, but budding astronomers can see the comet all month Picture: GARY EDWARDS

Comet Neowise was closest to the Sun on July 3, about 26.7million miles away from its surface, nearer than the average distance between the Sun and Mercury.

It is estimated it will pass closest to the Earth on July 23, but will still be roughly 64m miles away.

Some objects do not survive passing so close to the Sun, but Comet Neowise has now been spotted in the skies above Suffolk, with Shotley’s Gary Edwards catching the comet on camera.

MORE: What can you see in the skies above Suffolk in July?

Neil Norman, a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society based in Hadleigh, said the spectacle can be seen for the next few weeks.

Mr Norman said: “It is currently magnitude 1.5, meaning it is equal to the brightest stars and it is notable that you can visually see the tail pointing up in the ‘two o’clock’ position’.

“You can see it perfectly with your eyes and it is located all night low down in the northern sky. A pair of binoculars will show it’s long tail beautifully and it’s orange-coloured head .

“Comets like this only appear on average every 10 years but this is the first time a comet has been this bright since 1997.

“It will be visible all month and get dimmer as the month progresses, but will still an easy target for those with binoculars.

He added: “It has an orbital period of 6,800 years so now is the time to see it.”

Not content with catching one phenomenon in a picture Mr Edwards also photographed noctilucent clouds over the horizon.

The clouds have an eerie pale blue glow and can only be seen under very specific conditions in certain places on earth just after sunset and before dawn.

MORE: Amazing noctilucent clouds spotted in Suffolk

Comet Neowise was discovered on March 27, 2020, and is the brightest comet to appear in our skies since 1997 Picture: GARY EDWARDSComet Neowise was discovered on March 27, 2020, and is the brightest comet to appear in our skies since 1997 Picture: GARY EDWARDS

The Comet Neowise – officially called C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) – was discovered on March 27 this year and named after the Near Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, the NASA space telescope that detected it.

• Did you get a picture of Comet Neowise? Send in your pictures and you could appear in our gallery.


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