Rare Comet Fly-By Visible In Leo: Prepare For a Huge Energy Shift On February 11, 2017

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This coming weekend you may want to turn your attention overhead as the February night sky is about to light up with a few special showings. On Saturday, February 11th, not only will there be a full snow moon and lunar eclipse, a beautiful green comet will grace the space above us as well!

The comet, known as comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova has been nearing our planet over the past couple of weeks. As its orbit brings it closer and closer, 45P has been steadily growing in brightness, and it may even be visible to the naked eye. On early Saturday morning it makes its closest approach to Earth when, according to NASA, it will pass at a distance of about 7.4 million miles away from our planet. That may seem like a vast distance but in terms of space measurements it’s pretty close!

Comet 45P is a periodic comet, meaning that it orbits around the sun and returns annually, so it’s no stranger to our corner of the cosmos. About every five years it makes its way back to the inner solar system and so we get to see it!

Watch the video below to see what you can expect to see:

In order to try and catch a glimpse of it, look up towards the Western night sky. Experienced star gazers and space observers can find it in the constellation Hercules, but with the moon being full and the comet being already faint, you’ll probably need either strong binoculars or a telescope to get a good view. The beautiful space ball of icy gasses, rock, and dust will have a blue-green head and its faint, thin tail will appear to be fan-shaped.

Also, weather conditions factor heavily into whether or not you’ll be able to see the comet, so check your local forecast to see what is expected. If you are in a dark enough location and have strong vision there’s a slight possibility that you may be able to see it with the naked eye. However, as mentioned above, the majority of us will need a telescope or binoculars to really get a good view of 45P. Here are some additional tips on how to catch a glimpse of the weekend comet:

Find the darkest place possible near you. Choose a spot that is free from light pollution and provides wide open, unobstructed views of both the sky and horizon.

Watch the video below to see what you can expect to see:

Early in the morning, after midnight and before dawn arrives, point your telescope or binoculars towards the western horizon. According to astronomer Bob King, aka AstroBob, at maximum brightness it will be at about 82 degrees west of the sun.

Tune into any one of a number of sites that will be hosting live broadcasts of the event. That may be your best bet to see it since the moon is full and the bright light from it can easily block out the comet’s faint green glow.

If you do venture out into the cold night be sure to keep warm, dry, and as comfortable as possible. Wear layers and bundle up tightly against frigid conditions and for maximum coziness bring a big thermos of tea or hot chocolate to sip on.

This weekend the cosmos are definitely putting on an awesome display for all of us to enjoy with a lunar eclipse, a full snow moon, and comet 45P all overhead. If you’d like a chance to unwind and relax after a long week, simply take a moment for yourself and do some sky gazing. Think of it as nature’s therapy because it truly works wonders for clearing your head, mind, and thoughts. Plus, it just makes life all the more enjoyable so look up at the sky and try it out yourself this weekend!

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