Science

NASA Detects Incoming Comet Or Asteroid Towards Earth; Visible On January 14

By Dante Noe Raquel II , Jan 03, 2017 09:09 PM EST
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NASA's ICON satellite to study ionosphere, space weather

2016 for NASA's Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission spotted an object that may be seen using only a pair of binoculars the minute it gets close enough to Earth.

The objects, whose appearances hints to be a comet, is known as C/2016 U1 NEOWISE. The rocky body releases dust as it gets near the sun just like other comets or meteors as well as comet 67P, which the Rosetta probe of the European Space Agency observed creating clouds of gas and dust as it got closer the sun.

Ninth Comet Discovered By NEOWISE Mission Since Reactivation

Comet C/2016 U1 NEOWISE was revealed by the NEOWISE space telescope on Oct. 21, 2016, after the mission was rebooted from hibernation. NEOWISE has been scanning the space for near-Earth objects (NEOs) that may pose danger to our planet. Since its assignment was extended in 2014, NEOWISE has already exposed nine comets and 99 asteroids.

Extremely Rare Comet

Seeing Comet C/2016 U1 NEOWISE pass by would be a rare opportunity for stargazers because the celestial body most likely pass by Earth for the next thousands of years. Distinct short period comets such as Halley's, a comet which fly by our planet every 75 to 80 years, it would take C/2016 U1 NEOWISE far longer time before it revisits this region of the solar system again.

The object circles the sun on an indefinite hyperbolic orbit that is possibly millions of years long, which means that the comet's hang out with Earth may even be the first visit through the inner solar system.

Comet May Be Seen Using A Pair Of Binoculars

Paul Chodas, from NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object (NEO) Studies, held that there is a decent chance that the entity will be visible from Earth using a good pair of binoculars. However, he noted that there are reservations about this since the brightness of the comet is disreputable impulsive.

"Finding C/2016 U1 NEOWISE will be a clash between spying an elusive fuzzy low-contrast coma in contrast to a brightening twilight sky. Sweep the suspected area with binoculars or a wide-field telescopic sight if possible," advised by an avid stargazer David Dickinson for those who want to see the object.

From the northern hemisphere, the comet will be in the southeastern sky presently before dawn during the first week of the year but the object is predictable to reach its maximum intensity during the second week of 2017.

It will move past south every day and will get neighboring to the sun inside Mercury's orbit on Jan. 14 before it will go back out of the outer solar system next to an orbit that lasts for many, many years.

2017 Is The Year Of Comets

Seeing C/2016 U1 NEOWISE might be a treat for stargazers given that it is tremendously rare but it is not the only comet that will make a presence this year. Astronomers said that 2017 will be a good year for stargazing. The New Year's Eve comet, Comet 45P, may be observable again on Feb. 11 when it gets closer to Earth.

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