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Astronomers Say Comet NEOWISE May Become so Bright it Will be Visible to Naked Eye

CC0 / / Woman standing between telescope with stand and motorcycle
Woman standing between telescope with stand and motorcycle - Sputnik International
According to astronomers, the celestial body, which was discovered by NASA back in March, is now some 138 million miles away from the Earth. Its current level of brightness allows it to be seen only with the help of a telescope or binoculars.

Scientists say that the comet known as NEOWISE (C/2020 F3) may become so bright that it will be visible to the naked eye. Astronomer Michael Mattiazzo said that there is a 70 percent chance that the celestial body will survive perihelion - the point in the orbit of an asteroid or comet when it is closest to the Sun. According to astronomers, NEOWISE’s level of brightness will increase by the beginning of July, with its peak occurring on 3 July.

​However, scientists point to the famous saying of astronomer David H. Levy, who suggested: "Comets are like cats. They have tails and they do precisely what they want" – meaning there is a chance that NEOWISE will meet the same fate as the comets ATLAS and SWAN. Both of these celestial bodies were predicted by astronomers to become visible to the naked eye this year, but they disintegrated as they passed the Sun.

The European Space Agency’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) detects glowing green oxygen aura in Martian atmosphere. - Sputnik International
Astronomers Detect Glowing Green Oxygen Aura in Mars’ Atmosphere

Other things that could potentially hamper the observation of NEOWISE are weather conditions, location, and the fact that comets are at their brightest when they approach the Sun, which means they are brightest at dusk and dawn. “It means they are not observable in a dark sky. They have to be even brighter to be visible with the naked eye”, Rick Fienberg, a spokesperson for the American Astronomical Society, told Newsweek.

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