Space

After Century, April Fool’s Day Comet To Pass By Earth Tonight

Comet hunters soon to get a chance to see 'Comet 45P' from Earth

A bright-green comet, called ‘April Fool’s Day Comet’ is going to make its closest approach to Earth, after nearly one century, since its discovery in 1858. According to the official report, a bright emerald coloured comet will flyby in the closest approach to Earth tonight – between March 31 and April 1 and it will be observable in a live web video, broadcast from Slooh’s online Observatory this evening.

The astronomers at Slooh’s observatory have already pointed their telescopes at Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresák today, on March 31, as the event is expected to set off from 8:30 p.m. EDT (0030 GMT on April 1). The live webcast of the close approach of the comet will be transmitted on Slooh.com. As officially confirmed the closest approach of the comet will crop up at 8:34 p.m. EDT (0034 GMT on April 1) and this will bring the celestial body to a distance of 14 million miles or 22 million kilometres from Earth.

With a tiny and powerful telescope or with a good pair of binoculars, anyone can see it in the night sky, between 31st March and 1st April evening – or you can also go for the rare view can through Slooh’s telescopes in the Canary Islands.

Unlike the famous Halley’s Comet, which takes orbit of the earth in every 75 years, 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresák is not an “event” comet, said NASA. The brightest approach of the comet will take place towards 7th April 2017, while its closest approach to Sun will not occur before April 12. The comet will be located in the north sky near the Big Dipper, and it will stay there for all night. The last approach of 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresák was recorded in 1973 when it flared up to the enormity of 4, and this made it observable from a dark sky. Since then, it was invisible. NASA expects the 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresák to be one of the brightest objects in night skies.

To those unknown, 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresák was discovered by Horace Parnell Tuttle on 3rd May 1858, and again re-detected separately by Michel Giacobini and Ľubor Kresák, back in 1907 and 1951 respectively. The comet is a member of the Jupiter unit of comets.

“The comet is not significantly large. Its mass is less than a mile in diameter and can’t be observed with the naked eye”, says the Science Alert’s latest report. “Usually the comet crops up in the night sky and looks like a diffuse blob of light. With a good set of binoculars or small telescopes, it can be observed in the skies, with no moonlight”, added the report.

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