Comet NEOWISE spotted from International Space Station
Several comets have been located this year, most notable NEOWISE and ATLAS, which were spotted over the summer and autumn months. However, a new one is near Earth and could be visible this weekend. Comet Erasmus takes 1,900 years to orbit the Sun and has been seen making its way back through the solar system.
The comet is now faintly visible in the night’s sky shortly before dawn, southeast in the sky.
However, it is not quite visible to the naked eye, but come Saturday, December 12 it will be at its most visible.
As it moves closer to the Sun, Erasmus will increase in brightness and will shine as brightly as a 5th magnitude star, which can be easily spotted.
Astronomers predict that it will be most visible come December 12, as it dips inside the orbit of Mercury, the planet closest to the Sun.
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Following that, it will swing back outwards on its journey, not to be seen for nearly 2,000 years.
However, due to the close positioning of the comet to the Sun, the glaze of the star could make it difficult to spot.
According to The Sky Live, Comet Erasmus in the constellation of Scorpius.
To find Scorpius, look south to find the Milky Way and follow it upwards.
The comet was first discovered on September 21 by South African astronomer Nicolas Erasmus, hence the name.
Astronomer Gerald Rhemann snapped an image of the distant comet on the morning of November 20, which shows it has a beautiful green glow about it.
Mr Rhemann said: “The tail is magnificent. In fact, I couldn’t fit it in a single field of view.
“This two-panel composite shows the first 3 degrees–and it keeps going well past the edge of the photo.”
However, some scientists have warned comets will become increasingly difficult to see with the naked eye.
Light pollution is increasingly making it difficult for astronomers and amateur stargazers alike, as artificial lighting is constantly on the increase, a team of researchers say.
According to the Natural History museum, light pollution caused by artificial lighting is increasing by an average of six percent a year.
And as things get lighter here on Earth, the sky at night seemingly gets darker.
Gareth Dorrian, postdoctoral research fellow in Space Science at the University of Birmingham, and Ian Whittaker, senior lecturer in physics from Nottingham Trent University, said: “With the constant increase of light pollution in the night sky the observation of comets with the naked eye is becoming much rarer.”
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