ROGERSVILLE — Sky watchers and space enthusiasts take note:
The first visible comet of 2020 is flying by Earth and you’d better get a good look because it won’t be visiting our neck of the galaxy again until the year 8820.
Comet Neowise, a recently discovered comet of some three miles wide, is already visible to the naked eye in the early mornings, but starting this weekend, you can see it after sunset.
While the comet will be closest to Earth on July 22, it should be visible through the end of the month.
Neowise will be best viewed about an hour after sunset, in the northeastern sky, just below the Big Dipper.
The comet is the brightest new space visitor to come our way in 23 years, the last one being Comet Hale-Bopp, in 1997.
And, if you are interested in other space events in July, Saturn will be at it’s brightest on July 20.
Right now, too, the Perseid meteor shower is underway, but the “shooting star” show won’t hit its peak until about the middle of August.
The Perseid shower always kicks off in mid-July, but won’t hit its ‘peak’ until a day or so before and after the evening of Aug. 12, when as many as 100 per hour can be seen.
The Perseids are debris from the tail of the Swift-Tuttle comet that hit the Earth’s atmosphere and flame out as they burn up on the way down.
The shower is named for the point which it appears, the constellation Perseus.
The best place and time to view the Perseids is between midnight and before 4 a.m., in a place away from street lights or other exterior lights. It is also best to give one’s eyes about 15 minutes of being outside in darkness to “acclimate” in order to best see the meteorites as they streak across the sky.
Also in late July or early August, NASA plans another go at launching America’s newest Mars mission, the unmanned Perseverance Rover.
The ultra-high-tech science lab on wheels was set to launch a couple of weeks ago but was scrubbed at the last minute due to thunderstorms in the area of the Kennedy Space Center.
It’s mission is to test the Martian soil and atmosphere to see if the Red Planet at one time had life.
One of the most amazing “extras” about Perseverance is that it will carry along with it, a remarkable “helicopter” drone named Ingenuity, that can be controlled from Earth, and will be the first-ever “aircraft” to fly on another planet!