SCIENCE

Utah company built the telescope that discovered the NEOWISE comet

Jul 13, 2020, 12:46 PM | Updated: 4:48 pm
NEOWISE Comet...
Comet C/2020 F3, also known as NEOWISE, is seen before dawn above the Bonneville Salt Flats on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. The comet takes its name from the NEOWISE space telescope that discovered it in March. The comet survived its closest pass of the sun, which sometimes completely destroys the icy comets completely, on July 3, and will pass closest to the Earth on July 23. The comet can currently be spotted in the northeast part of the sky from one to two hours before sunrise. Around July 21 the comet will have slipped below the horizon at sunrise, but starting around July 12 it should start to be visible to the west in the hours after sunset. While dim, the comet can be spotted with the naked eye if you know where to look, while sensitive cameras, binoculars or telescopes will have an even better ability to view the celestial visitor. Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

LOGAN, Utah — If you’ve been up early enough, you might have noticed quite the “shooting star” in the northwestern sky — actually, a comet called NEOWISE.

The whole reason we know anything about the NEOWISE comet is because of a telescope built at Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory.

The NEOWISE comet may have been born over 4.6 billion years ago, but it was only discovered this year. Now, it can be seen with the naked eye.

Utah and the NEOWISE comet

The Space Dynamics Laboratory based in North Logan manufactured a telescope that’s discovered and used as a part of NASA’s Wide‐field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission launched in 2009 to map and scan the skies. 

The space-based telescope created in Logan was designed to detect the heat that was given off by objects in space. It was able to provide a more detailed picture than previous telescopes. SDL says that they are able to detect objects ranging in temperature from minus 330 degrees to 1,300 degrees.

After finishing its original mission in early 2011, NASA put the spacecraft to sleep. Then, in 2013, NASA reactivated and repurposed the telescope to look for potentially hazardous near-earth objects. 

“NASA renamed the spacecraft Near-Earth Object WISE, known as NEOWISE, and it began hunting the universe for comets and asteroids close to Earth’s orbit,” SDL says.

When and where to see the comet

The current comet that can be seen now just after dusk and before dawn was discovered by the telescope on March 27, 2020.

“The discovery of Comet NEOWISE is an exceptional example of the success of the NEOWISE mission. The opportunity to view a newly discovered object in space with the naked eye is extraordinary,” said Pedro Sevilla, SDL’s NEOWISE program manager and payload operations lead.

“For decades, SDL has worked with NASA to help reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind, and we are honored to be a part of this important mission.”

It’s expected that the NEOWISE comet should remain visible in the skies throughout the month of July. 

Space.com says that the best time to view our cosmic visitor will be in the evenings between July 14 and 19, about an hour and a half after sunset.

 

Today’s Top Stories

Science

A technician works on a component of Rocket Lab's Electron rocket ahead of the launch on the Mahia ...
NICK PERRY Associated Press

NASA hopes New Zealand launch will pave way for moon landing

The mission came together relatively quickly and cheaply for NASA, with the total mission cost put at $32.7 million.
4 days ago
BYU competes in URC....
Amie Schaeffer

BYU students compete in a contest that’s out of this world

A team of BYU engineering students placed in the top ten in the University Rover Challenge. The competition hosted students from 10 countries.
25 days ago
supermoon lunar eclipse map...
Curt Gresseth

Be over the moon because total lunar eclipse coming Sunday to Utah

Patrick Wiggins, NASA solar system ambassador to Utah, explains what a total lunar eclipse is and when it can be witnessed Sunday night in Utah -- provided the skies are clear.
2 months ago
This Sept. 24, 2020 photo shows the major parts of the IRIS radio that the Space Dynamics Laborator...
Waverly Golden

Utah State University helps NASA with space exploration

NASA is launching a new mission in 2025 and Utah State University is helping them by building space-based radios.
2 months ago
(A testing site operated by Nomi Health across the street from UDOH headquarters.  Photo: Paul Nels...
Paul Nelson

Federal health officials investigating Utah-based company over COVID-19 testing

A Utah-based company is being investigating for claims of substandard conditions at COVID-19 testing sites.
3 months ago
radio circle...
Ashley Strickland, CNN

Mysterious ‘odd radio circles’ seen in space, new image shows

Astronomers found the odd radio circles using the Australian SKA Pathfinder telescope, operated by Australia's national science agency CSIRO, or Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, two years ago.
3 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Utah company built the telescope that discovered the NEOWISE comet