A newly discovered comet passes in front of Earth, offering a breathtaking night spectacle after buzzing the sun and widening its tail.
Comet Neowise swept Mercury’s orbit a week ago. Its immediate proximity to the sun burned the dust and gas on its surface and created an even larger tail of debris. Now the comet is heading for us, with the closest approach only two weeks away.
NASA’s Neowise infrared space telescope discovered the comet in March.
Scientists involved in the mission said the comet is approximately 5 km in diameter. Its core is covered with soot which dates back to the origin of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago.
The comet will be visible worldwide until mid-August, when it travels to the outer solar system. Although visible to the naked eye in a dark sky with little to no light pollution, binoculars are needed to see the long tail, according to NASA.
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have already caught a glimpse.
NASA’s Bob Behnken shared a spectacular photo of the comet on social media last Thursday, showing Central Asia in the background and the space station in the foreground.
“Stars, cities, spaceships and a comet!” he tweeted from orbit.