Science

Is Comet NEOWISE visible from Olympia, Tumwater and Lacey?

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WASHINGTON –– Look up! As Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE passes through our inner solar system, catch a view of this once-in-a-lifetime sight. The comet with its brilliant split tail can be seen from the Olympia/Tumwater/Lacey area if you’re in the right spot! Currently, the comet is visible at dusk and nearly through dawn, and while best seen with binoculars, can also be viewed unaided. The comet will come closest to Earth around July 22, passing us by a short 64 million miles away.

Why do you want to see it?

If you’re wondering why I’m recommending that you stay up past your bedtime to view this comet, it’s because this is the last chance you’ll get for another 6,800 years! NEOWISE is an absolutely incredible sight and you don’t want to miss it.

How can you see it? In order to best view it, I strongly recommend using a pair of binoculars, or even a telescope if you can manage. While you can locate NEOWISE with the unaided eye, it’s difficult and at least one of my friends said that she was unable to locate it. The National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) has a great visual depiction of how to use the Big Dipper and the North Star to orient yourself. You can also download an app to your phone to locate various constellations and stars in the night sky as well. 

Where can you see it?

First, you’ll want to get away from any light pollution if at all possible. You’ll also want a clear view of the horizon – when I went to view it, it was sitting relatively low in the sky and any tall buildings or trees would be certain to hide it from view. Because it sits relatively North-Northwest, make sure you’re pointed in the right direction. For Olympia, Tumwater, and Lacey locals, I suspect viewing it across the Puget Sound may be your best bet unless you’re able to find a hill with a good view, although as mentioned earlier, the less light pollution the better.

Dan Hu is a contributing writer to The JOLT. 

 JOLT invites you to tell us where YOU were able to get a good look at NEOWISE.  A special park or parking lot? Just click below to add a COMMENT.  Thanks!

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Danny Stusser

I hear that Northpoint -- at the north end of Marine View Drive NE in downtown Olympia -- next to KGY+KAYO Radio is a great place to check out the comet.

| Sunday, July 19