New Delhi | Jagran Trending Desk: In what comes as a treat for skygazers in India, an extremely rare comet will pass by earth and will be visible in the country for 20 days, starting from July 14. The extremely rare comet, which was discovered by NASA’s Near Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer telescope, is been named as “C/2020 F3 NEOWISE”.   

C/2020 F3 NEOWISE or simply NEOWISE was discovered by the NASA while it was sweeping within Mercury’s orbit a week ago and now it is heading towards earth.

"From July 14, C/2020 F3, a comet discovered on March 27, will be clearly visible in the north-western sky. It will be visible after sunset for around 20 minutes for the next 20 days," said Deputy Director, Pathani Samanta Planetarium, Odisha.

NEOWISE can be seen by skywatchers at predawn. It can be watched without the help of any instrument.

"A far better viewing perspective will be available in the evening sky starting around July 14, when it will appear low in the northwest sky (20 degrees from the horizon) for around 20 minutes. In the evenings to follow, the comet will rapidly climb higher in the sky and will be visible for a longer period," said Dr. Subhendu Pattnaik, Deputy Director Pathani Samanta Planetarium, Bhubaneswar, according to a report published by ANI.

"Around 30th July it can be seen near Ursha Major (Saptarshi Mandal) at an altitude of 40 degrees and will be visible for an hour. After July it will fade away very fast and will not be visible to the unaided eye. A pair of binoculars or a small telescope will enhance its visibility," he added.

Comets are cosmic snowballs of frozen gases, rock and dust that orbit the Sun in a highly elliptical path. When frozen, they are of the size of a few hundred kilometres may be compared with the size of a small town. When a comet's orbit brings it close to the Sun, it heats up and melts thereby releasing a large amount of dust and gases into a giant glowing head larger than most planets.

The dust and gases form a tail that stretches away from the Sun for millions of kilometers in the opposite direction. There are likely billions of comets orbiting our Sun in the Kuiper Belt and even more distant Oort Cloud. The current number of known comets is: 3,650.

Posted By: Tushar Kumar Laleria