About the New Year’s Eve Comet

Hey, everyone! Just a quick note about a comet that’s been in the news over the last day or two. Word is the comet Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková will be visible in the sky near the Moon on New Year’s Eve. I only learned about it a couple of hours ago, and have been trying to get the scoop for you since.

It’s true, the comet will be there, but it’s going to be really hard to see against the still-kind-of-bright twilight just after sunset. The Moon on December 31 will be a very young crescent, only about 7% lit, which will make it hard to find, and even harder to use as a tool to find 45P. At best, you’ll need some binoculars to see the comet. I’d be surprised if anyone who lives anywhere but in the flattest, darkest, most remote places will be able to see it with the naked eye.

By the way, comets are usually named for their discoverers. Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková is named for Minoru Honda, Antonín Mrkos, and Ľudmila Pajdušáková.

You know me, though, so if you’re interested, I certainly encourage you to give it a try if your skies are clear. What’s the worst that’ll happen? I just don’t want you to be disappointed, you know?

I’m going to bring some friends and my binoculars out to have a look, and then turn toward the south and have a look at the planets Venus and Mars, our two closest neighbors other than the Moon.

Here’s a photo I took from my yard earlier this week of those two planets along with the stars Altair, Deneb Algeti (not to be confused with Deneb) and one of my favorites, Fomalhaut, which is the 18th brightest in the night sky.

Clear skies and happy new year, everyone!

mars-venus-dec-27-2016

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