On April Fools’ Day, a comet will fly close to Earth and we will be able to witness the moment – and this is no joke. The comet called 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak, also nicknamed after the day during which it makes its journey near Earth, will come as nearest to our planet as it has ever been.
Beautiful comet with a long history
This comes as a beautiful and real surprise on this day well-known for the date when people play pranks and jokes on each other. The comet bears the name of all astronomers who have ever analyzed it during many decades. Firstly, it was spotted in 1858. Then, researchers were able to see it flying past Earth in 1907 and 1951.
It is quite an impressive cosmic object, since it measures 0.87 miles, and therefore it performs a complete orbit around the Sun in 5.5 years. April 1st is a special day for the comet, as it will reach the closest point to Earth it attained in more than a century. The distance between our planet and the comet will be of nearly 14 million miles.
There is no need to worry. We are not in danger of colliding with the cosmic object, it will only provide an exquisite view for all skywatching enthusiasts. This is why both amateur and professional astronomers keep a close monitoring of the comet’s progress.
Everybody can witness the journey
On March 22nd, Tenagra Observatories from Arizona spotted the comet flying across the Ursa Major constellation and they made public some photos of it. However, today you will only need a regular telescope or binoculars to witness its journey. NASA encourages people to keep a close eye on the sky and not miss its passing.
Slooh will even share a live broadcast on their website and it can be found here. They could track the comet’s journey by using some advanced telescopes from the Canary Islands.
The exquisiteness of the comet lies in its occasional outbursts of light, which make it visible only by using binoculars. It reaches its closest point to Earth on April 1st, but you can see it from March to June. On April 13th, it will be visible to the naked eye. The nice object made a beautiful show on St. Patrick’s Day, when it emanated some green shimmers of light.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons