Comet could be visible from western Washington this weekend

There's a comet flying past our planet this weekend, and you may be able to get a good look at it from western Washington. 

Comet Neowise swept within Mercury’s orbit a week ago. Its close proximity to the sun caused dust and gas to burn off its surface and create an even bigger debris tail.

NASA’s Neowise infrared space telescope discovered the comet in March.

BEIJING, CHINA - JULY 7, 2020 - Comet neowise (C / 2020 F3) was observed. Beijing, China, July 7, 2020. - PHOTOGRAPH BY Costfoto / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Scientists involved in the mission said the comet is about 3 miles (5 kilometers) across. Its nucleus is covered with sooty material dating back to the origin of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago.

The comet will be visible around the world until mid-August, when it heads back toward the outer solar system. While it’s visible with the naked eye in dark skies with little or no light pollution, binoculars are needed to see the long tail, according to NASA.

The National Weather Service's Seattle office says if conditions remain favorable, the ideal time to look for it on the northeast horizon is 3 a.m. Saturday. 

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have already caught a glimpse.

NASA’s Bob Behnken shared a spectacular photo of the comet on social media late Thursday, showing central Asia in the background and the space station in the foreground.

“Stars, cities, spaceships, and a comet!” he tweeted from orbit.

   The Associated Press contributed to this report.