One of the top celestial treats we get to enjoy this summer is the appearance of comet Neowise, which is three miles wide and is visible to the naked eye from Earth. It is the brightest comet in the last 23 years to grace the heavens (Hale-Bopp was the last one in 1996/1997), and the best times to view the comet are between now and Sunday, July 15. However, the comet will make its closest pass by Earth on July 22 (from 64 million miles away!) and will be visible through mid- to late-August as it moves back out into deep space.
Because of this unique event, it’s a great time to take a weekend trip in your RV and find a place to see Neowise. Here are a few tips!
Find a “Dark Sky” Location
Areas where light pollution is reduced or nonexistent are known as “dark sky” places. They make the perfect spots to see celestial bodies because there is no light from homes, highways, and commercial buildings to reduce the visibility. Check out The International Dark-Sky Association for a list of official certified locations and look for ones that offer camping. Some notable parks are in California, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Texas, and many have unique features like concrete telescope pads and high-altitude orientations.
But if you can find land to camp on that gives you a 360-degree view of the sky and the light pollution is low, you’ll be in good shape to see Neowise. To see the comet, look northwest after the sun sets, a bit to the right of where the sun went down. The best times to see it are in the early morning and early evening, during twilight hours.
Inquire About Stargazing Programs at State Parks
Many state parks and historic sites offer stargazing programs that cater to folks interested in searching the skies above. Local astronomy groups and clubs may also be holding viewing meetings that you could participate in.
Be Respectful of Other Campers
Others may be camping and hoping to see a clear view of Neowise, too, so try to limit campfires and other external light sources that could hinder that view.
Gather Your Gear
Make sure to grab your telescope or binoculars so you can have the clearest, close-up views of Neowise. Other items to bring include a headlamp with a red light function, so you can navigate around your campsite without needing to turn on lights.
Have you used your RV to go stargazing before? What tips would you recommend others follow? Let us know in the comments or contact us today!