Neowise will continue zooming into space, fading from view into August as it vanishes for the last time in 6,000 years. You can catch it in the northwestern horizon in the evenings before then. Just follow the Big Dipper downward toward the horizon. Neowise will climb progressively higher in the sky each night.
Those deciding to try their luck at spotting the comet must be patient and remember that what it looks like will differ from photographs. Traveling away from light pollution is key for the best viewing, as is having wide-open panoramic views. But if you are lucky, you will see the comet, at times resembling a luminous eraser smudge, fanning a few degrees across the sky.
Those who venture outdoors in pursuit of Neowise may also be fortunate enough to catch a Delta Aquarid meteor. Delta Aquarids occur sporadically during the second half of July and much of August, but the main flurry of activity comes on the night of July 29. That’s when up to 20 shooting stars per hour may streak over clear, dark skies.
Meteor showers occur when Earth bowls through a dense stream of debris left in the wake of a comet, asteroid or other space-borne object.
Depending on where you look, you may encounter fewer meteors. Viewers in the Northern Hemisphere will see shooting stars emanate from the shower’s “radiant” point in the southern sky, meaning the best meteors with the longest tails will be most readily visible in the east and the west.
A much more spectacular meteor shower — among the year’s most prolific — will pepper the skies with a spattering of bright shooting stars and “fireballs” come mid-August. The Perseid meteor shower peaks the night of Aug. 11. Dozens of shooting stars could be visible beneath a clear sky every hour.
Perseid meteors zip across the sky at 37 miles per second. Their diaphanous tails can appear white, orange, yellow, pink, turquoise and even violet, lingering in the sky for a few seconds. The rainbow spectrum of colors come from the combustion of magnesium, sodium and iron.
The only fly in the ointment? This year’s Perseids will be competing with a 47 percent illuminated moon, which could outshine some of the fainter meteors.
Viewing times and directions will vary according to your location; for the latest listings specific to your area, check here.