How to view Comet C/2020 V2 ZTF

Comet C/2020 V2 ZTF is currently visible in binoculars or large binoculars at dawn.

It will be close to Uranus in early July 2023, but bright post-solstice skies may hinder attempts to see it properly.

As darkness returns, the comet heads shyly southward, ending the month just east of the distorted pentagonal shape that marks Cedes’ head, the whale.

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Ninth magnitude comet C/2020 V2 ZTF begins in July 2023 near Jupiter and Uranus. Starting on the Mac. +9.4, which is expected to reach +9.1 in mid-September, then disappear again. Credit: Pete Lawrence

Although Comet C/2020 V2 ZTF will be bright on July 2o23, the bad news is that it won’t be bright from this month. +10.0 and ends at +9.8.

The balance between position and sky brightness can be a tricky one, and won’t be a viable goal until the last week of July.

Even so, viewing from more northern locations can be challenging.

As the end of the month approaches, dark skies and the comet’s highest position before morning twilight should make it a potential target in the early morning hours.

Chart showing Comet C/2020 V2 ZTF location in July 2023.  Credit: Pete Lawrence

Chart showing Comet C/2020 V2 ZTF location from July – September 2023. Credit: Pete Lawrence

The Moon is in its first quarter on July 25, and although it will try to occupy the comet at the end of July, the Moon will be able to catch a short window of relative darkness after sunset.

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The Moon will interfere badly in early August (which we can happily tolerate since it will be out in mid-August when the Perseid meteor shower peaks).

When the moon is out again in August, the comet will be in the best viewing position, reaching its highest altitude in the dark sky in mid to late August.

Throughout most of August 2023, Comet C/2020 V2 ZTF continues its southward motion and is predicted to reach a magnitude of +9.1 to end the month near the end of the month. +3.9 star Eta (η) Eridani.

Photographed Comet C/2020 V2 ZTF? Don’t forget to send us your pictures.

This guide originally appeared in the July 2023 issue of BBC Sky at Night magazine

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