For the next few days, night sky-gazers will be able to spot a pale green comet that is making one of its closest flybys to our plant in several decades.
Comet 45P/Honda–Mrkos–Pajdušáková will make its closest approach to Earth at 3 a.m. ET on 11th of February. However, the greenish comet will be visible only by telescope or binoculars.
It has gradually been brightening since it rounded the Sun on New Year’s Eve. Astronomers have predicted that it will pass within 7.4 million miles of Earth, roughly 32 times farther away from our planet than the moon.
The comet will make its best showing just a few hours after another eye-catching celestial event -- a deep penumbral lunar eclipse, which takes place when the full moon enters our planet’s outer shadow cone, and the usually bright, silvery moon undergoes subtle but characteristic shading.
By coming Sunday, the Comet 45P will slide swiftly towards the small constellation of Corona Borealis, and on the subsequent day, it will enter the constellation Boötes.
Astronomers have assured that there is absolutely no chance of the Comet 45P’s collision with our planet, but the imminent flyby will be our nearest brush with any comet in more than thirty years. In June 1983, Comet IRAS-Araki-Alcock zipped by our planet at a distance of merely 5.9 million miles.