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NASA Detects New Comets Passing Past The Earth, Could Be Seen Through Binoculars Now

First Posted: Dec 31, 2016 03:20 AM EST
Comet
Comet C/2006 P1 McNaught is pictured at twilight over Sydney Harbour on Jan. 16, 2007 in Sydney, Australia. The 31st of 32 comets discovered by astronomer Rob McNaught of the Siding Spring Observatory is the brightest comet in 40 years. The blurred black trails at left and right are silhouettes of bats as they flew across the sky in this slow shutter speed exposure. (Image for representation only.)
(Photo : John Pryke/Getty Images)

The NASA's NEOWISE mission detected celestial objects also referred to as comets traveling in the inner Solar System. They might turn so bright and will be seen through binoculars or with the naked eye between this time to Jan. 14.

Paul Chodas, manager of NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object (NEO) Studies, said that the comet known as C/2016 U1 NEOWISE has a good chance of becoming visible through a good pair of binoculars. On the other hand, they cannot be sure because a comet's brightness is notoriously unpredictable.

Science Alert reports that C/2016 U1 NEOWISE will reach its closest point to the Sun in its orbit on Jan.14, 2017. The detected comet is around 140 million kilometers (87 million miles) away and about 350 times farther away from the planet Earth than the Moon. This means that there is no possibility that it will hit the Earth.

There is another comet that is detected by NASA's NEOWISE mission. This second celestial object is called 2016 WF9, that will pass the Earth in the coming weeks. It is discovered on Nov. 27 and nearing the orbit of Jupiter. It would take about 4.9 years for a complete orbit. On the other hand, the astronomers are uncertain if the 2016 WF9 is an asteroid or a comet, according to CBC.

A comet is icy that when it passes near the Sun it goes into a process known as outgassing, in which it warms and begins to evolve into gasses. It may appear bright as seen from the Earth without any telescope. Meanwhile, the asteroids are minor planets that are rocky or metallic. They are referred to as the minor planets of the inner Solar System that includes the co-orbital with Jupiter.

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