Backyard Observatory

Comet Neowise Is Fading. Here's How to See It With the Naked Eye While You Still Can.

It's been a treat all month, but you're running out of time to see Comet NEOWISE.

July was already destined to be a great month for stargazers, but a blue-green blur in the northwest sky has made this a memorable month for lying in the grass at night. If you haven't had a chance to see Comet NEOWISE, well, you'd better make a point of getting it done because the comet has started dimming

It's only a slight dimming so far, but it signals that we're running out of time to see the comet streaking under the Big Dipper with the naked eye. Part of the reason it's going to continue to fade is that it's about to get further from Earth. Comet NEOWISE will make its closest approach to Earth on its journey out of the solar system on July 22 into the morning of July 23, per EarthSky. It'll be about 103 million km (0.63 AU) from Earth. 

Of course, the result of the comet's dimming is that it's getting harder to see with the naked eye, especially if you're not looking from a dark sky site. But looking with binoculars can still give you a nice view of the comet, and it may even make it a little easier to see with the naked eye once you've spotted it with binoculars. 

The three-mile-wide comet is made brighter as it's heated by solar winds. It's now going to start moving further from our view and from the sun that's heating it. It may continue to be visible to some extent into August, but it will continue to get harder to see. 

How to see Comet NEOWISE

However, for now, you can still spot the icy comet. As of the night of July 22, you'll be able to spot it sitting below and slightly to the left of the Big Dipper. The comet and familiar constellation will be visible in the northwestern sky about an hour after sunset. It's moving higher and further to the left under the Big Dipper every night.

I've personally had luck seeing it from inside city limits, but you're going to have a better chance if you get out of the city to darker skies. That will be increasingly true as the comet fades. When you're out, look for meteors streaking across the sky as well. We're in the midst of the somewhat tepid Delta Aquarid meteor shower, and the very beginning days of the Perseid meteor shower, which will be one of the year's best when it peaks on August 11. 

There's a lot to see when you look up right now. It's worth doing, even if it messes with your plans to binge Unsolved Mysteries all night.

Ready to go stargazing?

Here are all the best stargazing events that you can get out and see this month or you could stay in a stream the northern lights from home. If you're just getting started, check out our guide to astronomy for beginners

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow him @dlukenelson.