Astronomy is such a wonderful thing. In that vast darkness of space, there are stars, planets, galaxies, the occasional blackhole, and some of the most fascinating events like comets and eclipses. These events can be far and few in-between, with lunar eclipses happening every few years, but comets taking as long as hundreds of years. That is the case in particular with the NEOWISE comet, currently blazing across the stars past the Earth. If you don’t get a chance to see it, the comet won’t be within visible distance again for 6800 years, so it’s now or never. With South Florida and Miami light pollution, getting a clear view of the night sky can be tough, but it would be a whole lot better if you got an SUV with a sunroof.
Named after the Near-Earth Object Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) space telescope that first spotted the comet in early July, NEOWISE is currently a melting ball of ice. If unaware, that’s what all comets are – frozen chunks of ice hurtling through space. When they get too close to the sun, that ice begins to melt, causing a tail of ice behind the comet. Like the planets, the sun shines off of the comet, making it appear like a bright star with a tail. However, if you’re lucky, you could get an amazing look at the comet like the image above.
One would think catching a comet in the night sky would be easy, just look for the moving star, right? Wrong. Satellites appear to be moving stars, although they stay close to Earth, trapped in orbit. Planets like Jupiter and Saturn may be lined up in the sky right now, and they’ll stay there for a while, but a comet zipping by? That’s a little more difficult, especially because of its location – under the Big Dipper.
The comet is about 64 million miles away from our planet, but stargazers can see it best on July 22-23, although it should be visible until the 26th of July. If looking northwest, or using a map for finding constellations, a stargazer should be able to spot the Big Dipper and flying under it will be the NEOWISE comet. As we all know, the Earth continues to spin, and these patches of sky will eventually move. Astronomers say the best time to catch the NEOWISE comet under the Big Dipper is after sunset, when the stars just start to come out and the constellation is still fairly high in the sky. NEOWISE should continue to climb, but once the Dipper is close to the horizon, the chances of seeing the comet are pretty much impossible.
So we know where to look for the comet, but how can we get somewhere with minimal light pollution? A small road trip to the beach or everglades never hurt anyone, and it will be the best way to catch the celestial sight of a comet from Earth with the naked eye. While driving to your spot, whether wanting to stay cool or not wanting to miss an unmistakable sight, driving in a vehicle with a sunroof is the best option. Luckily, many Mitsubishi Motors vehicles offer a sunroof option. The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross are all Mitsubishi SUVs that can come with a sunroof, the perfect way to lay back and star gaze in the summer.