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Green Comet Approaches Earth for First Time in 1371 Years

Green Comet Approaches Earth for First Time in 1371 Years

Tuesday, 12 February, 2019 - 08:15
A section of the Tarantula Nebula, located within the Large Magellanic Cloud. The LMC is a small nearby galaxy that orbits our galaxy, the Milky Way, and appears as a blurred blob in our skies. REUTERS/NASA/ESA/Hubble | October 21, 2014
Cairo- Hazem Badr
NASA announced recently that the Iwamoto Comet, known as "the Green Comet", will pass closest to Earth at just 45 million km.

Japanese astronomer Masayuki Iwamoto discovered the new comet in December 2018. Astronomical calculations indicate it takes around 1,371.3 years to return, which means that the latest passage of this comet dates back to 648 A.D. (unregistered) and will not be repeated again until 3390.

According to a report by the agency on Sunday, the comet's brightness ranges between 6.5 and 7.5 degrees (the higher the degree, the lower the brightness), which means it can be seen easily with telescopes. The comet will pass by the Leo stars seen midnight towards the southern horizon at this time of the year.

According to the report, the comet comes from behind the Kuiper Belt, from an area located five times the distance from Pluto to the Sun, at a great speed of 66 kilometers per second. The Kuiper belt is an area of the solar system composed of frozen objects and rocks.

"This comet has a green color because it contains cyanogen and carbon dioxide, which both glow when exposed to sunlight," Ashraf Tadros, head of the National Institute of Astronomical Research and Geophysics in Egypt told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Although the degree of its brightness (between 6.5 and 7.5) allows observation using small telescopes, Tadros stresses that the sky's condition may affect it. "If the sky is cloudy, the observation would be difficult. Clouds are the greatest enemies of astronauts. However, if the sky is clear, people can go to remote places to observe the comet with a telescope," he explained.

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