Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresák will make a close approach to our planet on April 1, 2017, passing at a safe distance of 0.142 AU / 55.4 LD. This will be its closest flyby of Earth since its discovery in 1858.
41P/Tuttle–Giacobini–Kresák is a periodic comet, a member of the Jupiter family of comets, discovered on May 3, 1858 by an American astronomer Horace Parnell Tuttle. Its nucleus is estimated to be some 1.4 km (0.86 miles) in diameter and it orbits the Sun every ~5.4 years. The comet was recovered on November 10, 2016 at apparent magnitude 21 by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) in Hawaii.
On April 1, 2017, 41P will pass 0.142 AU / 55.4 LD (21 200 000 km / 13 200 000 miles) from the Earth. The comet is expected to brighten to around magnitude 7 and be visible in binoculars. It will be an easy target for backyard telescopes and almost visible to the naked eye.
Optimistic estimates place the comet's brightness at magnitude +6, near the lower limit of naked-eye visibility. The best time to observe is during the dark hours before the sunrise when the comet is high in the northern sky.
41P will make its closest approach to the Sun (perihelion) on April 12.
Featured image: Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak Taken by Norbert Mrozek on March 27, 2017 @ Stottmert, Germany (via SpaceWeather.com)
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