Comet Neowise or C/2020 F3 has become the object of interest for the 1000-strong community of stargazers and astronomy enthusiasts in Hyderabad. Since July 14, this group of stargazers, along with other astronomy enthusiasts across the country, have been trying to get a glimpse of what is being billed as a ‘naked eye’ comet, which means it can be spotted without the aid of any optical instruments. Neowise is a comet discovered on March 27 by NASA’s, Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, an orbiting telescope. Astronomers have calculated that the next time the comet makes its visit to the solar system will be 6,800 years later.
In Chennai, branding and marketing professional and avid birdwatcher AM Aravind hopes this will be the celestial sighting to beat the Ikeya Seki, the Great Comet of 1965, which his father remembers seeing and still brags about. “It was one of the best comet sightings of the last century,” Aravind says. “People tend not to realise how rare it is to be able to see one, particularly with the naked eye.” Aravind, 38, has been tracking celestial events since the Hale-Bopp comet visited in 1995. He tracked the transit of Venus in 2012, the transit of Mercury in 2016 and has witnessed several eclipses.