On August 12, Japanese photographer Hideo Nishimura pointed his camera at the rising sun and accidentally made a special discovery: he saw a green comet passing by. The photographer reported his observation to the Central Bureau of Astronomical Telegrams (CBAT). It’s rare for a random human to spot a comet, says Vishni Reddy, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona who was informed by Nishimura.
Most comets require professional equipment to observe them from Earth or space. But Nishimura was able to capture the flash of green light with his home and garden camera. Therefore, comet C/2023 P1 (Nishimura) was named after him.
How can you see Comet Nishimura?
With any luck, Comet Nishimura will still be visible in the coming days. You have to wake up early for that. The comet is best seen just before sunrise. Find a place with little light pollution, outside of the city, and look up in the east direction. The comet is a small green streak, so binoculars can help get a closer look at this cosmic snowball.
The comet is expected to be brighter on September 17, 2023, making it visible to the naked eye. But there is also a drawback: the comet would be very close to the sun at the time, which could hinder the view. And of course the weather must be good too: when it’s cloudy, you can imagine the heavenly scene on your stomach.
However, it’s worth setting an alarm, because this green comet will only pass by once in your lifetime. C/2023 P1 (Nishimura) takes 435 years to orbit the Sun. The next time it will fly around Earth will be in the year 2458.
Willick Van Doorn studied journalism, traveled the world for a while, and eventually ended up in the editorial offices of Quest, National Geographic, and Runner’s World across the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. She is interested in the world, prefers to travel every month and always takes her running shoes with her.
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