How to see a newly discovered green comet this week, before it vanishes for 400 years

A new discovery! A green comet is passing near Earth for the first time in over 400 years. This comet, named Nishimura after the enthusiastic Japanese astronomer Hideo Nishimura, was first spotted on August 11th.

Nishimura used advanced equipment, including a digital camera and telephoto lens, to capture long-exposure shots of this celestial visitor. But what exactly is it? Well, when our solar system first formed, there was a lot of leftover icy debris. So, what we see as a comet is basically a chunk of dirty ice from that ancient time.

How to see a newly discovered green comet this week, before it vanishes for 400 years
NASA

Comets usually reside far from the Sun, tucked away, making them nearly impossible to spot for us. However, from time to time, one of them ventures closer to our star. As the Sun’s warmth starts to vaporize the icy substances that make up the comet, it sheds its outer layer of dirt and dust, revealing its tail, which we can see from Earth.

In the age of automated telescopes, Nishimura’s discovery is quite remarkable. Astronomer Andrew Fraknoi described it as “a great achievement for passionate astronomers, scanning the sky for something not even on star charts. But Nishimura did it.”

Before searching for a comet through any automated system in space, they had discovered comets. So, this is a true tribute to their dedication.

How can I see it?

Not easily. It can only currently be seen from the northern hemisphere. You’ll need to wake up before sunrise and look eastward – so find a place where you can see low on the horizon.

The best chance to see this comet is on Tuesday morning when it’s closest to the Sun. On September 17th, it will be closest, after which it will move away and become visible from the southern hemisphere.

Look for it in the Leo constellation. You’ll need binoculars or a small telescope for a good view.

If you’re serious about spotting the comet, astronomers recommend checking out a sky and telescope chart for guidance.

In pictures, the comet appears bright, glowing in shades of green. But astronomers advise against searching for something green in the sky.

According to them, “bare eyes see only a faint white glow.” “Green is only seen in pictures.”

When was this comet last seen on Earth?
Scientists estimate that it takes about 430 years for this comet to complete its orbit around the Sun.

So, it was last seen from Earth in the late 1500s – before Galileo Galilei pointed his telescope toward the skies.”

In the 2450s, it will be visible from Earth once again. So, if you missed it this time, you’ll have to wait for some time until your next opportunity.

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