For the past few days we've been able to see something quite special and quite rare in the night sky. A comet so bright it can be seen without a telescope, just the naked eye. The reason NEOWISE is rare is due to its brightness and relative closeness to Earth. It's still a good 100 million km away (some 400 times further than the moon) but relative to space that's not far at all.

Comet NEOWISE above Budleigh Salterton Credit: Gary Holpin
Comet NEOWISE above Burnham-on-Sea Credit: David Whatley

It won't be a flash in the pan either, because the comet will be at its closest to Earth around the 23 July and should be around until the end of the month at least, giving you plenty of chances to see it. We'll need some more clear nights though, which don't look that likely during the second half of this week.

Postions of Comet NEOWISE during July Credit: Stuart Atkinson

On the next clear night look up quite low in the horizon towards the north and northwest, just below The Plough, and let your eyes adjust. You should be able to see what looks like a star with a faint smudge streaking away from it. Through binoculars or a telescope it looks even better, and it's the last time we've seen something as bright since Comet Hale-Bopp back in 1997. It's well worth a glance upwards - good luck!

Comet NEOWISE seen from the Mendips Credit: Josh Dury
Comet NEOWISE above Carn Brea, with noctilucent cloud Credit: Stuart Cornell
Comet NEOWISE over Exeter Credit: John Maclean
Comet NEOWISE above the skies in Colyton, East Devon Credit: Lycia Moore
Comet NEOWISE over Bodmin Moor Credit: Chris Barnard