Well, looking for fireworks in the sky! Here’s the best New Year gift for all astronomers. Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova will be visible to those looking west near the moon at New Year’s Eve. Comet 45P is around magnitude 8, bright enough to be seen through binoculars from dark sites.
Sighting a comet, from curse to interviewing it, has helped us explore a lot about them. Comet 45P is one of them. Let’s know about the comet alongwith its previous and recent visits.
About Comet 45P
This is a short period comet discovered by Minoru Honda on Dec 3, 1948. The comet is named after Minoru Honda, Antonia Mrkos, and Ludmila Pajdusakova. The comet is on an elliptical orbit with a period of 5.25 years.
The comet’s nucleus is estimated to be 0.5-1.6 km in diameter. The comet will look different than a star or planet, giving off a blueish green color with a fan-shaped tail.
During the 1995 perihelion passage, the comet was visible to Solar & Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) on January 16, 1996 when the comet was around apparent magnitude 7 and 4.3 degree from the Sun.
The comet made a close approach of 0.0600 AU (8,980,000 Km) from the Earth on August 15, 2011 and was studied by Goldstone Deep Space Network on August 19 & 20 detected echoes from the nucleus and coma. This is the 15th comet that has been detected by the radar.
Visibility of Comet 45P this time
45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova was at perihelion at the end of 2016 and has a brief observing window in the evening twilight at the beginning of January. It emerges from solar conjunction at the beginning of February on its way to passing 0.08 AU from the Earth on February 11. It could be a binocular object as it moves rapidly across the sky during February. Though it is initially a morning object, it quickly moves into the evening sky after closest approach, but by then begins to fade fast. It passes a few degrees from M3 (Globular Cluster) in mid February.
Following table shows the details of position of Comet 45P till January 13, 2017 :
The comet 45P passed closest to the sun on Dec 31, 2016. On that date, it was about 0.083 AU away from Earth-7 million miles away-or about 30 times more than the distance of Earth’s Moon.
So, all astronomers, don’t miss it. Excited to observe it. Wish you all clear sky.