Comet Streaking Past Earth, Providing Spectacular Show

Comet Neowise
Comet Neowise seen from the Colorado National Monument. (Conrad Earnest via AP)

A newly discovered comet is streaking past Earth, providing a stunning nighttime show after buzzing the sun and expanding its tail.

Comet Neowise swept within Mercury’s orbit a week ago. Its close proximity to the sun caused dust and gas to burn off its surface and create an even bigger debris tail. Now the comet is headed our way, with closest approach in two weeks.

NASA’s Neowise infrared space telescope discovered the comet in March.

Scientists involved in the mission said the comet is about 3 miles across. Its nucleus is covered with sooty material.

The comet will be visible around the world until mid-August, when it heads back toward the outer solar system. While it’s visible with the naked eye in dark skies with little or no light pollution, binoculars are needed to see the long tail, according to NASA.

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have already caught a glimpse.

NASA’s Bob Behnken shared a spectacular photo of the comet on social media late Thursday, showing central Asia in the background and the space station in the foreground.

“Stars, cities, spaceships, and a comet!” he tweeted from orbit.

Comet Neowise
Comet Neowise, left, is seen in the eastern horizon above Earth. (NASA via AP)
Comet Neowise
Comet Neowise seen above Salgotarjan, Hungary. (Peter Komka/MTI via AP)
Comet Neowise
Comet Neowise seen above Cered, Hungary. (Peter Komka/MTI via AP)

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