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How to see tonight’s ISS flyover and Comet NEOWISE

Fewer storms bring better views

Comet NEOWISE in early July 2020
Comet NEOWISE in early July 2020 (NASA)

Tonight offers a good opportunity to watch the International Space station fly over northeast Florida and the chance of a passing comet.

Thunderstorms will take a pause providing less cloud cover this evening when you will want to glance up at 9:11 in the southwest sky.

What to look for? The space station looks like an airplane or a very bright star moving across the sky, except it doesn’t have flashing lights or change direction.

The pinpoint glow will start 11° above the southwestern horizon and pass to the northeast for six minutes.

It will also be moving considerably faster than a typical airplane which generally flies at about 600 mph compared to the space station rate at 17,500 mph.

The light doesn’t come from the spacecraft but sunlight reflected off the space station. Since the contrast is greater against the darker sky, the ISS will only be visible within a few hours before or after sunrise or sunset.

If you miss tonight another sighting is possible Thursday morning at 5:21 AM. This flyover starts in the NW sky and passes to the SE for 6 minutes.

NASA provides live tracking for additional dates.

For those hoping to catch a glimpse of Comet NEOWISE before it disappears, for another 6,800 years, there are several observing opportunities over the coming days.

Look shortly after sunset in the northwest sky below the Big Dipper. If you’re looking at the sky without the help of observation tools, Comet NEOWISE will likely look like a fuzzy star with a bit of a tail, so using binoculars or a small telescope is recommended to get the best views of this object.

Direction to spot NEOWISE
Direction to spot NEOWISE (NOAA)

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