Newly discovered comet makes swing by Earth in 2013

June 22, 2011HAWAII – A newfound comet discovered by a telescope designed to hunt for dangerous asteroids will make its closest pass by Earth in 2013 and should be visible to the naked eye when it draws near, astronomers say. Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS 1 telescope detected the comet, which is called C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS), on the night of June 5 and 6, and the discovery was confirmed by follow-up observations with a different instrument a day later. The comet will likely come within about 30 million miles (50 million kilometers) of the sun in February or March 2013 — about the same distance as the planet Mercury, researchers said. During its closest approach to Earth in two years, comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) likely to be visible low in the western sky shortly after sunset, weather permitting. Skywatchers interested in seeing the newfound icy wanderer should look up then, because they may never get another chance to see it. “The comet has an orbit that is close to parabolic, meaning that this may be the first time it will ever come close to the sun, and that it may never return,” said the University of Hawaii’s Richard Wainscoat in a statement. Wainscoat helped confirm the comet’s existence. Right now, C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) is about 700 million miles (1.2 billion km) from the sun, placing it beyond the orbit of Jupiter. It is currently so faint that only telescopes with sensitive electronic detectors can pick it up. The comet’s clunky moniker is slightly unusual. Comets are usually named after their discoverers, but in this case such a large team of researchers helped spot the icy wanderer that it took the name of the telescope instead. Pan-STARRS 1 found the comet while scanning the sky for potentially hazardous asteroids — ones that may someday hit Earth. The comet, however, poses no danger to our planet, researchers said. –Space.com
This entry was posted in Comets, Fireballs, Meteor or Asteroid, Solar Event, Space Watch. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Newly discovered comet makes swing by Earth in 2013

  1. That’s a good question.

    Like

All comments are moderated. We reserve the right not to post any comment deemed defamatory, inappropriate, or spam.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s