Friday, February 10, 2017

Green Comet Close Call!

Green Comet Makes Close Earth Flyby

Green-glowing 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova will make an unusually close pass by Earth on Saturday. Watch it boogie across the morning sky this week!
Green Comet ... Incoming!
Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova glows green from fluorescing carbon gas in this photo made on February 4th. The streaks are stars, which made long trails during the time exposure as the photographer tracked the comet.
Hisayoshi Kato
Green means "go," and you won't get any argument from 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova. This pedal-to-the-metal comet will zoom past Earth at 51,000 mph, making its closest pass around 8 UT (3 a.m. EST) on Saturday morning, February 11th.
While it won't be coming in for a landing, 45P/H-M-P will miss the planet by just 7.7 million miles or about 32 times the Earth-Moon distance. Because of its proximity, we'll see this frenetic fuzzball barrel across more than 2 hours of R.A. and nearly 20° of declination in the next five days.
The comet poses no threat, but the waxing Moon might. Back in late December and January, when 45P/H-M-P huddled nearer the sun, it quickly grew into a bright, compact ball of aqua haze with a long skinny tail, resembling an onion yanked from your garden. Now outbound from the Sun, it's quickly losing its mojo — the comet is currently tailless, large, and diffuse.

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