Scientists at NASA have discovered a rare comet scheduled to reach our solar system in January 2017. They say the celestial object will be visible for about two weeks before it wanders off into space again. The discovery of the rare comet, dubbed C/2016 U1 NEOWISE was made last year on October 21st when the Near-Earth Object Widefield Infrared Survey Explorer picked up on the space object via NASA’s program meant for detecting celestial objects that may pose a threat to our planet.
The team of researchers says that stargazers will be able to observe the comet passing by using only a pair of binoculars once it enters our solar system. The news is even more thrilling as astronomers say that the comet will most likely return to Earth for the second time in a thousand years’ time.
The mission that focused on identifying objects coming dangerously close to our planet was first implemented in 2014 and reactivated in 2016. During this time, NEOWISE, short for Near-Earth Object Widefield Infrared Survey Explorer, discovered 99 asteroids and nine comets.
As opposed to the C/2016 U1 NEOWISE comet, other celestial objects such as Halley’s can be observed by skygazers once every 75 to 80 years. However, in order for the newly discovered celestial object to visit our solar system again, it has first to complete its hyperbolic orbit though to be millions of years long.
Paul Chodas familiarized with the discovery says that people looking to the sky during the first week of 2017 will be able to observe the comet flying by using only a pair of binoculars. Nevertheless, there could be a chance that C/2016 U1 NEOWISE will go unnoticed in the first week of its journey through our solar system because of the unpredictability of the comet’s brightness.
Even if the comet won’t make itself visible for the stargazers, scientists at NASA say that the object will reach maximum brightness during the second week of its journey. Hence, the comet will be visible in the southeastern skies shortly before dawn in the northern hemisphere. On January 14th, the celestial object will start moving farther south by the day until the comet will leave our solar system heading out into outer space, according to NASA scientists.
Image Source: Pixabay
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