April Fool’s Day Comet Soars Past Earth: 150 Years In The Making

Category: Science Written by Jason Martin 71 0

April Fools’ comet Earth

“April Fools’ Day Comet” is currently trending on Google, bing, twitter and facebook and it isn’t a hilarious April Fools’-themed joke.

On 1 April, comet 41P / Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresák will approach the Earth at a record distance since its discovery more than 150 years ago. An approach that will allow to observe it in the sky with binoculars, a telescope and perhaps even with the naked eye.

An iconic comet will come to visit us on April 1st and no, it’s not an April Fool! The name of this comet: 41P / Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresà¡k. This body was discovered in 1858 and then re-discovered several times during the 20th century. And for good reason, it is a periodic comet that orbits the Sun which it circles in 5.5 years.

This year, however, it will realize its biggest approach ever since its discovery. On April 1, the comet, whose diameter is estimated at 1.4 kilometers, will safely pass 21.2 million kilometers from Earth. A little more than a tenth of the distance that separates our planet from the Sun.

This event will be an ideal opportunity for scientists to learn more about this space body. But amateur astronomers can also enjoy it. According to specialists, its distance and its luminosity will indeed make it visible in the sky for the inhabitants of the northern hemisphere.

comet april fool’s day: HOW TO OBSERVE IT?

April Fools' comet Earth
April Fools’ comet Earth

The comet is not particularly large or bright. A pair of binoculars or a telescope must be used to observe it. In addition to being equipped, good weather conditions will be necessary to have a clear sky.

It is also important to select a place away from any light pollution and a time when the brightness of the moon will not disturb the observation. According to specialists, the comet will pass through the stars of the Constellation of the Great Bear and the Dragon, and will remain visible until mid-April.

If you are not equipped, the weather is not mild, or if you live in the southern hemisphere, you can always follow the passage of the comet live on Internet with sites like SLOOH.com.

April Fools’ comet Earth VISIBLE TO THE NAKED EYE?

For the neophytes in particular, to observe a small comet of this kind does not necessarily constitute an exceptional spectacle. The body often appears as a circular patch and diffuses light. However, specialists suggest that this year the comet may experience an increase in luminosity as it did in May 1973.

At that time, a few days before reaching its perihelion, the luminosity of the comet suddenly increased, gaining in magnitude and becoming 10,000 times brighter in just two days. As luminous as a star of magnitude 4, it then became visible to the naked eye before darkening again the following days.

At present, the exact cause of the phenomenon is unknown, but Seiichi Yoshida, a Japanese comet expert quoted by Space.com, thinks this could happen again this year: the comet could reach a magnitude of 5.5, Naked eye. So it might be worth it to take a look!

Did you catch the April Fools’ comet fly past Earth?

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