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5 great spots in Southern Nevada to view comet NEOWISE

Updated July 23, 2020 - 4:59 pm

The Comet NEOWISE is expected to remain visible to the naked eye through Saturday. Following that, it will be visible with binoculars or a telescope until the end of July.

But for optimal viewing, it’s best to get away from bright city lights. John Mowbray, a local amateur astronomer and photographer, suggests getting out of the city to view it and setting up 30 minutes before sunset. NEOWISE should become visible around 9:30 p.m.

Jason Steffen, an assistant professor of astrophysics at UNLV, said avoiding urban lighting is ideal.

“If you were to get south of the city, or over by Lake Mead, or anywhere where you can block some of the city lights, it’ll be a good place to see it,” he said.

It’s important to be at a high elevation, with a clear view of the northwestern horizon, so that as the sun sets, you can see the tail coming over the horizon. The following locations may allow a clear view of the comet:

1. Seven Magic Mountains

Less than an hour’s drive south of Las Vegas, Seven Magic Mountains allows visitors to be far enough from the city to experience almost total darkness at night. The darkness makes it a great place to catch the comet.

2. Red Rock Canyon

Although the scenic drive and visitor center are closed, there are a few overlooks along Red Rock Canyon Road where visitors can park and view the sunset and comet. Ian Rabago, a UNLV graduate student in astrophysics and hobbyist nature photographer, warns that “the comet starts off kind of low on the horizon. If you have mountains nearby you in the northwest, it might set below the mountains a little too early.”

3. Lake Mead

While Lake Mead is in the east and the comet can be seen in the northwest, visitors may have to look through the city lights, which will make it difficult to see. But Rabago said, “Lake Mead at night has a lot more stars that you can see, and that helps in seeing the faint details of the comet. It appears as kind of like a faint smudge in the sky.”

4. Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs

Tule Springs is a series of small lakes that formed an oasis in this part of the Mojave Desert. The park is in the extreme northwest of Las Vegas.

5. Desert National Wildlife Refuge

A short drive north of Las Vegas can help one escape the light pollution and enable a clear view of the comet. Like Seven Magic Mountains, this desert gem is far enough from the city to showcase the night sky.

Contact Jannelle Calderon at jcalderon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @NewsyJan on Twitter. Earyn McGee, a 2020 Mass Media reporting fellow through the American Association for the Advancement of Science, contributed to this report.

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