If you keep your eye on the sky this weekend, you might be able to witness the passing of the “Comet Swan.” The Comet Swan and its 11 million mile long tail will be visible in the night sky for the next few days and will be visible to the naked eye for much of the planet.
This incredible space object was first discovered back in April by an Australian astronomer by the name of Michael Mattiazzo. Don’t worry about any kind of collision, because the comet has already passed the earth, but it will continue to get brighter as it approaches the sun, which is why it is much more visible to us now.
Comet Swan can be viewed from both the northern and southern hemispheres, but will be more visible in the south, unless it passes again, in which case it will be more visible in the north. This comet is currently about 53 million miles from the Earth and is expected to be a ‘significant’ comet in terms of visibility, according to the European Space Agency.
A little closer look pic.twitter.com/YGRdEXGRFv
— Chirpy McAdams152 (@YeaIseddIt) May 13, 2020
It is unclear whether or not the comet will come back around after it passes the sun, since space objects often break apart because of the overwhelming heat when they get close to the sun. That’s what happened with Comet ATLAS last month. Comet Swan is now approaching the closest point to the sun that it will see later this month. Researchers estimate that it will reach its closest point around May 27th, and if it doesn’t break apart by then, it will become even more visible in the sky, especially in the northern hemisphere.
Long Tailed Comet SWAN
May 08, 2020 pic.twitter.com/VtwA5QxLoI
— NASA daily images (@NASADailyImage) May 8, 2020
The original images that led to the discovery of the comet were captured by the Solar Wind Anisotropies (SWAN) instrument on the European Space Agency and NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).
Researchers have given the following schedule for best viewing of the comet.
May 15: Visible in the northern hemisphere, low on the horizon
May 17: Reaches its minimum elongation from the Sun
May 18: In Perseus and at its brightest and visible low in the northeast
May 26: Reaches its closest point to the Sun in its orbit and will move from morning to evening sky