Comet LINEAR will be visible in the Northern Hemisphere in late March. The comet with a greenish haze will be 100 times brighter than expected.
Skywatchers around the Northern Hemisphere have a great chance to catch a glimpse of a bright green comet next week. The comet LINEAR, formally known as 252P, has recently been viewed by the observers in the Southern Hemisphere and it was bright enough to be spotted with the naked eye without using any binocular or optical aid.
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Now, the vivid green comet is starting to glow more intensively and will become 100 times brighter than expected in the coming days. The view may not be as spectacular as one should expect because of the Moon’s excessive light as well light pollution. The comet should be visible with binoculars in very dark skies. The preferable location will be countryside area with less interference of light. Observers need to wake up at least one and half hours before the sunrise in the ending days of March and search for it in the southern part of sky between the distinctive constellations Sagittarius and Scorpius. Initially, it will be low in the sky but will be higher up with each day gone by.
“Don’t expect Comet LINEAR to be obvious with a long tail,” said Sky & Telescope senior editor Kelly Beatty. “Its light is not concentrated in a single point but instead is spread out in a soft round glow, larger than Moon but many thousands of times dimmer.”
The comet LINEAR will have a spectacular greenish haze around it, which is caused by molecules of diatomic carbon (C2) and fluorescing in the sunlight. However, the greenish color will not be evident unless a telescope has been used.
The comet will be roughly in line with planet Mars and Saturn on the morning of March 29 and close to the line connecting Saturn and a bright star Antares on March 31st. Astronomers are not sure how long it will remain bright enough for seeing through binocular.
Comet 252P/LINEAR made a historic flyby on March 21st when it passed close to the Earth just 3.3 million miles away. Now it’s moving away both from the Earth and Sun.
Its trailing partner, called comet PanSTARRS (designated P/2016 BA14), passed even closer to Earth – about 2.2 million miles away. The cores of these comets are roughly 750 feet and 350 feet across respectively.
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