Comet

Comet Lovejoy Maximally Close to Earth on January 7th

On January 7th, the comet Lovejoy will be 44 million miles (70.2 million km) from Earth, the closest any celestial body has ever passed by our planet, informs the Independent.

The comet С/2014 Q is named after its discoverer, Terry Lovejoy, and for several weeks now the celestial object has been quite a sight to behold by inhabitants of the southern hemisphere, due to its green radiance.

According to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the comet will be closest to Earth on January 7 and will be most clearly visible from the northern hemisphere of the planet.

The website Space will even be providing a live feed of Lovejoy as it passes by our planet. The project is called the Virtual Telescope and aims to have another live feed, showing the path of the comet, which will be broadcast on January 11.

The celestial object leaves behind a green trail due to the gases emitting from it - cyanogen and diatomic carbon, which glow green when sunlight passes through them.

Space

After this week, the comet will gradually move away from the Earth and Sun and quickly fade from the sky. The next time it passes by our planet will be in 8000 years.

Lovejoy stunned astronomers several years ago after it managed to survive a maximally close flyby near the Sun. The comet passed at a distance of 8700 miles (14 000 km) from the surface of the star in our solar system and remained intact.

The majority of astronomers suspected that it would vanish after its approach of the Sun but this did not occur and now the tailed comet is headed near Earth.

The Comet Lovejoy was discovered in 2011 by an Australian astronomer and is one of the latest astronomical finds.

A month ago, Russian astronomer Leonid Elenin, working for the Russian Academy of Sciences, found a new comet located 0.877 astronomical units from Earth.

P/2014 X1 will not be passing near our planet and won't be visible with the naked eye.

In 2010, its discoverer Leonid Elenin became the first Russian to find a new comet.

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