A PHOTOGRAPHER has captured a rare glimpse of a comet which is only visible once every 6,800 years.
Dawid Glawdzin snapped a picture of Comet Neowise as it flew across the skies above Essex late last night.
The comet shot through the sky at a distance of 103 million kilometres away from Earth and should be visible again over the city this evening.
Officially known as C/2020 F3, it can be seen with the naked eye once you’ve pinpointed it using a set of binoculars (or a telescope).
💫A faint view of Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) before sunrise, upper left, over Washington, DC. More 📷: https://t.co/LVyafZweKZ
— NASA HQ PHOTO (@nasahqphoto) July 12, 2020
Some astronomers say it’s the best comet visible from the UK in more than two decades.
Stargazers can catch the best glimpse late at night or very early in the morning.
Neowise was discovered on March 27, 2020, by the NASA space telescope called Near Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (or NEOWISE for short), hence its name.
Comet Neowise by Camera Club member Dave Cooper
The comet will come closest to Earth on July 23 – though it will still be about 64 million miles (103 million km) away.
Look to the east around midnight to 1am and you’ll see the bright object that is actually Venus. From there, look left (facing north) and you should see the bright star Capella.
Then look down towards the horizon and to the left and you should be able to see a streak. That’s Neowise.
Beautiful Declan Deval image.
Comet Neowise over Stonehenge UK on the 10th. pic.twitter.com/kgKe4E2rFG
— Con Stoitsis (@vivstoitsis) July 12, 2020
Each night it will be a little further to the left. As it is close to the horizon, you’ll need a view that isn’t obscured by buildings or trees.
From the middle of July onwards, the comet will be visible all through the night, but always low in the sky.
By July 25, the comet will appear 30 degrees up from the west-northwest horizon as darkness falls.
And on July 30-31, the comet will be passing just to the north of the fine star cluster of Coma Berenices or Berenice’s Hair.
NASA said: “A comet has suddenly become visible to the unaided eye.
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“Comet C/2020 F3 (Neowise) was discovered in late March and brightened as it reached its closest approach to the Sun, inside the orbit of Mercury, late last week.
“The interplanetary iceberg survived solar heating, so far, and is now becoming closer to the Earth as it starts its long trek back to the outer Solar System.
“As Comet Neowise became one of the few naked-eye comets of the 21st Century, word spread quickly, and the comet has already been photographed behind many famous sites and cities around the globe.”
Trailing behind the comet is a shining streak of light made up of “noctilucent clouds”.
They are a cloud-like phenomena in the upper atmosphere of Earth, made up of ice crystals and are only visible during astronomical twilight.
A comet is an icy, small body that, when passing close to the Sun, warms and begins to release gases, in a process called outgassing.
This produces a visible atmosphere and sometimes also a tail.