TECH

Comet 45P Is Set To Pass Earth – This Is How To Spot It

It's going to blaze a trail past the moon on New Year's Eve.

30/12/2016 13:03

If you’re spending New Year’s Eve in the US and you’re still working out your plan of action, bear this in mind – a comet is set to blaze a trail past the moon.

In an Instagram post, NASA encouraged star-gazers to “say farewell to 2016 in cosmic style by looking up to see the #NewYearsEve comet”.

If you’re in the UK however, 45P will be best viewed in early February, when it reaches a higher point in the night sky.

A post on the British Astronomy Association’s website suggests the comet, despite having a bright magnitude, will be “painfully low” on NYE in the UK.

It has been visible in various locations around the world since mid-December, when it first rose above the western horizon. By 21 December, the comet’s blueish green head and tail could also be seen.

On New Year’s Eve itself, the comet should be visible with the aid of strong binoculars in the US, as it rendezvous with the moon, NASA said.

But in the UK it won’t “reach a respectable altitude in the morning sky” until early February, according to the BAA.

The post added: “[It moves] rapidly north and west through Aquila, the north-eastern corner of Ophiuchus, Hercules, Corona Borealis, Boötes, Canes Venatici, Coma Berenices and finally entering Leo, all in the month of February.”

The comet, also known as Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova, is a regular visitor to our skies. It made 11 close approaches to Earth in the last century. 

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