For those of you who are growing bored in lockdown, there is an interesting object in the night sky for most of this month. And even better, it can be observed without any special equipment, and while maintaining social distancing and isolation.

Back in March, while the rest of the world was dealing with the growing pandemic, a team of astronomers working on the the Neowise space telescope mission made a fascinating discovery. They observed a comet traveling past the Sun, and which was not previously known about.

The official name of this comet is C2020F3, but most people now just refer to it as Comet Neowise. It is composed of a three kilometer wide chunk of ice and dust, and appears to be in a periodic orbit that has it visiting our solar system approximately once every six thousand years. The last time humans could look up and see this comet in the night sky, western civilization was limited to Egypt and Ancient Greece.

Although there are thousands of such objects orbiting the solar system, it is rare to have a view of one that is this extraordinary. The last big comet that I can recall was already over twenty years ago with Hale-Bopp. And the Neowise comet is expected to remain for most of this month, although it is already starting to diminish in brightness as it moves away from the Earth.

For those who wish to see it, the best time seems to be about an hour after sunset each evening. Ideally you should view it from a dark location away from the city lights, but some people are reporting decent sightings and photographs even from their own backyards. Binoculars are beneficial, but you can still get a decent view of it with the naked eye.

So why not take a few moments to forget the problems of the world, and stare up at our visitor from space.