Local astronomy enthusiasts likely didn’t get much sleep last night.
Newly discovered comet Neowise is the brightest comet visible from the Northern Hemisphere in 25 years, according to the Associated Press, and it’ll be about 7,000 years before it returns. A few members of the Westminster Astronomical Society met late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning to watch Neowise pass across the Carroll County sky.
“Comets are like cats, everybody has one but they’re very unpredictable,” said Skip Bird, outreach director for the society, so he wanted to see one while he had the chance.
Five stargazers gathered Tuesday night at Gamber & Community Volunteer Fire Company, where they had the best view to the north and west. At about 4 a.m. Wednesday, four people gathered at Eldersburg Elementary School to watch the eastern view, Bird said.
“It was really good,” he said. “At night it’s going down as it gets darker and in the morning it’s coming up as it’s getting brighter.”
The last bright comet Bird recalls seeing in the area was Comet Hale-Bopp, which appeared in 1995.
Bird said comet Neowise can currently be seen with the naked eye, though binoculars provide a better look. If someone wants to view the comet in the morning, he predicts Saturday or Sunday as being the last good days to catch it with the naked eye during the early morning, at least in this area. About three weeks remain before binoculars or a telescope will be necessary to catch it at night, Bird said.
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Neowise is named for NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, which spotted the comet on March 27, according to NASA’s website.