The Best Date & Time to View Comet NEOWISE

Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3), dubbed “one of the brightest comets in a generation,” is currently visible without a telescope in the Northern hemisphere. NEOWISE, which was discovered March 27, won’t return for another 6,800 years, according to NASA. The comet is expected to reach its apex (when it passes closest to Earth) July 23. 

Weather Source meteorologists created a free and easy-to-use NEOWISE Visibility Forecast Tool in celebration of the event. Simply select your country then enter your ZIP/Postal Code. The tool reveals a 5-night comet visibility forecast and also includes optimal viewing timeframes.

For example, Burnaby, British Columbia, will enjoy prime visibility several nights in a row:

Conversely, astronomy enthusiasts in Manhattan will have to wait until Sunday night for a clear view:

Weather Source meteorologists and developers created the tool by pairing comet positioning data from NASA JPL’s HORIZONS System with Weather Source astronomy and forecast data. The tool does not take light pollution into account, though NEOWISE sightings have been documented in several major metro areas: 

Comet NEOWISE is seen before sunrise, upper left, over Washington, Sunday, July 12, 2020. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)


After its nearest approach July 23, the comet will rapidly fade from view. By early August, NEOWISE will once again be invisible to the naked eye.

Click here to access the Weather Source NEOWISE Visibility Forecast Tool. 


Headline Image: This image of comet NEOWISE was captured by NASA’s Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory, or STEREO, on June 24, 2020, as the comet approached the Sun. Credit: NASA/STEREO/William Thompson

Kristin Q. Cody

Kristin was formerly Director of Marketing & Communications at Weather Source. Prior to Weather Source, Kristin was Director of Content and Strategic Communications at the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, where she launched the award-winning trajectory magazine and served as an editor on several scholarly and technical publications. Kristin holds an M.A. in Journalism from Syracuse University. Her areas of expertise include geospatial information, space-based sensors, AI, and the application of technology for humanitarian causes and global security.

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