A Strange Green Comet Is Heading Our Way
An unusual green comet reaches maximum brightness on Saturday, providing a treat for early-morning risers.
Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova (named after three astronomers who discovered it in 1948) travels into the inner solar system every 5.25 years. On Saturday, 45P will pass just 7.4 million miles from Earth, a stone’s throw by celestial yardsticks.
With binoculars or a small telescope, comet-watchers should be able to spot 45P in the pre-dawn skies between Thursday and Sunday. The comet will be racing through the constellation Hercules high in the eastern sky.
Comet 45P will look like fuzzy bluish-green ball with a fan-shaped tail. Its distinctive colour comes from vaporizing diatomic carbon, a gas which glows green in the near-vacuum of space.