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UPDATE: Comet NEOWISE Visible on Washington, Oregon Coast, Western Side

Published 07/11/020 at 4:44 AM PDT - Updated 07/13/020 at 9:24 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Comet NEOWISE Possibly Seen on Washington, Oregon Coast, Western Side

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(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – [UPDATE: IT MAY BE SEEN UNTIL ABOUT JULY 22] Consider it a dream come true for visitors to the Oregon coast and the Washington coast, as well as anyone living west of the mountains in either state. Comet NEOWISE, the stunning ball of fire that’s been only visible in the eastern parts of both states, has indeed made appearances in the northwest skies of the Pacific Northwest. On top of this joyous mix of astronomy, beaches and metropolitan cities, the comet will be visible just after sunset and not inconveniently in the minutes before dawn. (Photo credit: Dalibor Hanžl in Pavlovice, Czech Republic)

Comet NEOWISE made a surprise appearance in the northeastern skies of Earth recently, showing up as a faint yet stunning glowing ball with a magnificent trail. It’s the best (and really only) major comet seen since Hale-Bopp in the late ‘90s.

Now, with it moving to the northwestern sky as of July 13, it is visible from Brookings to Seaside all the way up through the Olympic Peninsula. Those on the southern Oregon coast may have some blockage just immediately south of Cape Arago and Cape Blanco. You’ll also want to be well south of any headlands such as at Cannon Beach, Newport or Pacific City.

Jim Todd, astronomy expert with Portland’s OMSI, said it won’t be any different for the southern Oregon coast than it will be up on the northern half or throughout the Washington shoreline. Look to the northwest just after sunset and it will be about 20 degrees above the horizon. This starts on July 13 and 14, but after that you'll likely need optics such as binoculars or professional camera equipment to spot it.

Dusk may interfere with that for awhile, so you may have to wait until near 10 p.m. to actually glimpse it.

“You need to look at a darker sky,” Todd told Oregon Coast Beach Connection.

You also need a lack of hazy clouds or cloud cover, he said. The slightest atmospheric interference could block it.


Above: Comet NEOWISE seen from the International Space Station (courtesy ISS / NASA)

The big plus about the Oregon and Washington coastlines is that there is a flat ocean horizon. The iffy part is the weather. Marine layers may come in block it. See Oregon Coast Weather - Washington Coast Weather

From major population centers like Seattle, Portland and Eugene, the key is to get out of town. Although Oregon Coast Beach Connection has snapped pictures of it in Beaverton.

“To view the comet, it’s best viewed [as far] away from city light as possible, with clear views of the northern horizon,” Todd said. “Binoculars are recommended for full effect.”

The best way to find it is to look to the northwest, find the Big Dipper and then look below and slightly to the right. Todd said it may still be visible as late as the 22nd or so.

This also means that southwestern curve of Oregon shoreline from Reedsport to near Bandon could have a clearer vantage point to the direct north.

Todd added sighting this glowing, flying ball isn’t a guarantee later in its flight path. He said comets are notoriously fickle, and they could stop showing, they could break up – any number of things. However, scientists say it will be climbing higher in the sky each night, which may increasie visibility.

Comet NEOWISE was named after the satellite equipment that spotted it initially back in March, a space probe that’s used to try and spot dangerous incoming meteors that may threaten life on Earth.

NASA scientists say the comet has a large nucleus, estimated at three miles across. Swinging close to the Sun earlier this month caused it to heat and glow to the point of visibility. It will actually makes its closest approach to Earth on July 22, but it is fading in intensity with each night. See the sky map below:

Oregon Coast Hotels for this event - Where to eat - Map - Virtual Tour





Courtesy SpaceWeather.com

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