A celestial visitor to the inner solar system discovered by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer mission is giving people in central Maine a good look at a comet for several days before it takes off into the distance, not to return for 6,800 years.

The comet has been named after its discoverer, NEOWISE, which uses a repurposed astronomical space telescope to detect and track near-Earth objects such as asteroids and comets, according to the space agency’s website. Several objects the system has detected have been labeled PHAs, potentially hazardous asteroids.

Deputy principal investigator of NEOWISE Joe Masiero said in a NASA Science Live webcast Wednesday and quoted by space.com that the comet is 70 million miles from Earth, about three-quarters of the distance between Earth and the sun, traveling at 40 miles per second, and poses no threat to the planet.

Space.com says the best time to view the comet during the evening will come during the July 14-19 time frame.

To get a good look at the comet, NASA advises avoiding well-lit places, using binoculars or a small telescope to view the comet, and looking into the northwest sky after sunset, when the comet will rise increasingly higher in the sky.


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