Comet Neowise lately has been hanging around the evening sky. Have you noticed?
If you want to get a glimpse or photograph, better do it soon. The comet will make its closest approach to Earth on Wednesday night and eventually fade from view, not to be seen again for 6,800 years, according to NASA.
Following tradition, the Neowise comet is named for its discoverer, which in this case was NASA's Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer mission. It was identified March 27, made its closest pass of the Sun on July 3 and is now heading back to the far reaches of the solar system.
The comet is relatively bright, one of the brightest in years. It is visible, barely, to the naked eye in dark, clear skies away from city lights. But it is a photogenic comet, if you know where and when to look.
How to see comet Neowise
The best time to see comet Neowise is in the evenings. It rises higher each night in the northwest sky between the Big Dipper and the horizon.
It is also visible around dawn, but is becoming more difficult to see then.
Though theoretically visible to the naked eye in good conditions, binoculars (or a smartphone app that maps the night sky) might be necessary to pinpoint Neowise.
How to photograph Neowise
If you want a memento of the comet's trip to the inner solar system, you will need a tripod, a camera that allows you to manually set a long exposure and photo-editing software.
Ideally, you'll want to get away from city lights, but it's not required. A good view of the northern horizon, however, is.
Exposures of 3 to 20 seconds may be necessary. Forbes science contributor Jamie Carter suggests longer exposures for wider, scenic shots and shorter exposures for close-ups. But it all comes down to experimentation based on your other settings and local conditions.
Editing software will help brighten the photo and clean up image noise from the low light.
NASA offers guidance on its website.
When is the next full moon? Meteor shower?
If you miss Neowise, there are more night sky events to keep track of in the coming weeks.
The next major meteor shower is the Perseids, which peak the night of Aug. 11-12 and can produce 50 to 75 meteors an hour at maximum, according to the American Meteor Society. It is preceded by two weaker showers, the delta Aquariids and alpha Carpicornids, which both peak July 28-29.
The full moon in August is the sturgeon moon on Aug. 3.