Over the last several years, there have been forecasts of bright comets coming. In fact, some predictions went way over the top with promises like “Comet of the Century this Month!” or “Comet Coming Visible in Daylight!” Even this year there have been two false alarms for potential bright comets. Those comets broke up when they got close to the sun. With all these claims of bright comets coming, it’s understandable that when more people hear or see them they chalk it up to media hype. Who can blame anybody for being cynical?

Comet NEOWISE, though, is more than making up for exaggerated forecasts. Without a doubt, it is already the brightest comet since Comet Hyakutake in the mid-90s. Since around July 4 it’s been visible to the naked eye, even in light polluted areas. It’s been mostly visible in the early morning, just before and during the early stages of twilight. Late this past week, though, it’s been leaving the morning skies and is becoming visible in the early evening Shamokin sky around 10 p.m. toward the end of twilight. This week could be the peak of the Comet NEOWISE show as it passes within 65 million miles of Earth.

Mike Lynch is an amateur astronomer and retired broadcast meteorologist for WCCO Radio in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

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