Comets are quite unpredictable celestial objects but NASA says it “seems like a good bet” that Comet Nishimura could become visible to the naked eye this week. Its orbit could bring it on a close approach to Earth on September 12, when it could be as close as 125 million kilometres away.
The comet was discovered in mid-August by amateur astronaut Hideo Nishimura, who used 30-second exposures with a standard digital camera to see it. Since then, the comet, officially called C/2023 P1 Nishimura, has increased in brightness as it went forward on its path in the inner solar system. The comet is angularly near the Sun so even if it is visible, you will only be able to spot it early before sunrise or late before sunset.
When Dulquer Salmaan had to bring out his Porsche to get respect on a film’s set: ‘Suddenly they brought a chair for me’
Garena postpones ‘Free Fire India’ launch by a few more weeks
The comet is currently located in the constellation Leo, according to EarthSky. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) orbital calculations indicate that the comet completes an orbit around the Sun once every 435 years. While September 12 would probably be the date at which it would be closest to the Earth, there is a chance that it will be so close to the Sun that we will not be able to see it due to the star’s glare.
EarthSky marks September 8 as a good date for when it will be within range of the unaided eye. On that day, you might be able to look for the comet before the day breaks. The most dominant object in the night sky will be a crescent moon in the eastern part followed by Venus nearby. The comet could be near the pair right next to the star Adhafera in Leo’s Sickle.
Comets are cosmic snowballs of frozen gases, rock and dust that orbit the Sun. They are leftovers from the formation of the solar system. Typically, they range from a few kilometres to tens of kilometres wide. But as they orbit closer to the Sun, they spew out gases and dust, which forms the tails that they are famous for.