'Prime-Time' viewing in the sky this week in the Northern Hemisphere.
A 3 mile wide chunk of space ice is shooting past the Earth this month. Called comet Neowise, this cosmic orphan appears in our skies only once every 6,800 years - always with long and breathtaking tails consisting of blue and yellow dust and gas.
Here are some quick tips on when and where to see it:
The comet is slated for its closest pass on July 23, roughly 64 million miles away, according to NASA. Then it will careen away - to the very edge of the solar system. It won't return to our neighborhood for 6,768 years.
Many comet viewers have had to pull all-nighters or awake pre-dawn to catch a glimpse of Neowise as it rises above the eastern horizon. But Space.com reported that "prime-time" viewing hours will actually come in the evenings this week - roughly 80 minutes after sunset.
After sunset, the comet will appear higher in the night sky, which will make it easier to see as the week goes on. When we reach Sunday, the celestial orphan will be 20 degrees (roughly two fists clenched at arm's length) above the horizon. In the evening, Neowise rises in the northwest.
Morning birds will be able to see the comet at roughly 10 degrees above the northeast horizon - roughly the width as one clenched fist held at arm's length. In the next few days, it will be even lower - at roughly 5 degrees on Saturday. Afterward, it will sadly fall too low for our eyes to see amid the light of dawn.
Don't bother bringing your binoculars or telescope - this astronomic event is visible to the naked eye in dark skies. However, if you live in a city the light pollution may cause visibility problems...