C / 2020 F3 (NEOWISE) became the object of public attention quite unexpectedly. It was opened on March 27 this year by the NEOWISE mission of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) space telescope, hence the name. In general, it is worth getting used to the fact that the titles of most, if not all future comets will have such strange abbreviations, and not the names of the discoverers. Progress does not stand still and more and more discoveries are made using automatic technology with subsequent analysis of the data obtained by a team of scientists. At that time it was an object of only the 18th magnitude and the calculation of its parameters did not predict any extraordinary brightness after passing the perihelion (during this period, due to its proximity to the Sun, it is impossible to observe a comet).
Reappearing in the morning sky in early July, C / 2020 F3 (NEOWISE) has a second magnitude and can easily be seen with the naked eye, even in the city, becoming the first bright comet in 23 years in the northern hemisphere! Its orbit is very inclined relative to the ecliptic and will divert the comet further north, creating very favorable visibility conditions for our latitudes.
The nucleus will remain active for some time and the bright tail will last for several weeks, and from the second half of July the comet will be available throughout the night, moving through the constellations of Lynx and Ursa Major. The combination of the above factors suggests that the period from 15 to 22 July will be the most favorable, so if you decide to hunt a “tailed star”, focus all your attention on this week; don’t procrastinate. And although at a minimum distance from Earth, the comet will miss on July 23, by then it will have lost its brightness and it will be increasingly difficult to distinguish it in the sky.
Opinions on whether C / 2020 F3 (NEOWISE) can be called a large comet differ. The answer to this question will be given in time, and we, for our part, can still enjoy a rare spectacle that will soon become history.