You Might Be Able to Spot a Comet This Week

Newly discovered Nishimura would require an early wake-up and good binoculars
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 11, 2023 8:20 AM CDT
You Might Be Able to Spot a Comet This Week
This image shows Comet Nishimura and its tail seen from Manciano, Italy, on Sept. 5, 2023.   (Gianluca Masi via AP)

A comet that last zipped by our planet around the year 1590 is on its return trip, and it makes its closest approach to Earth on Tuesday, reports EarthSky. Those who hope to catch a glimpse of Comet Nishimura might be able to do so if they rise before dawn and grab a good set of binoculars—that latter is necessary because the comet will be relatively faint in the sky. The AP has some specific instructions:

  • "Early risers should look toward the northeastern horizon about 1 1/2 hours before dawn—to be specific, less than 10 or so degrees above the horizon near the constellation Leo." Getting to a higher mountain elevation may help.

Sky watchers already have been tracking the comet for the last week or so, notes Sky and Telescope, which calls attention to this photo. However, it should be visible to backyard astronomers this week, too, per the Washington Post. In fact, Nishimura might be more easily spotted around Sunday, when it makes its closest pass to the sun. The comet "will appear nearly colorless or slightly pink through binoculars," notes CNN. If the name isn't familiar, that's because it was discovered only this August by Japanese space photographer Hideo Nishimura. Some incentive for the early rise? Comet Nishimura won't be back for another 430 years or so—or perhaps never if it burns up on its approach to the sun. (More comet stories.)

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