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Green Comet Passing Earth

February 24, 2009 — Comet Lulin will make its closest approach to the earth.

Beginning Monday February 23, stargazers will have the opportunity to view the comet as it will be fairly easy to locate next to brilliant Saturn sometime after 10pm. With clear skies Saturn which is located in the Southern sky about halfway up from the horizon should be visible to the naked eye. Look for a cream-coloured star. The comet will hopefully remain visible for several days before the moon starts to interfere beginning February 28.

It may be necessary to use binoculars to ensure finding Comet Lulin which should be to the right of Saturn. To the naked eye, Lulin may only appear as a 'fuzzy' star. However, the timing is perfect for looking at the comet since there is no moon in the sky this week!

This is the first time that Lulin has visited the inner solar system and its first exposure to intense sunlight so surprises are possible. At its closest approach, Lulin will still be approximatly 60 million kilometres from the earth, roughly 160 times farther than the moon.

Called the “green comet,” Lulin’s colour comes from the gases that form its Jupiter-sized atmosphere. First discovered in July 2007, Lulin is the highlight comet of this astronomy season and is unique for its discovery. The comet was discovered through a collaboration between Taiwanese and Chinese astronomers.

Source: NASA

User Image:
Comet Lulin - February 24, 2009 Brittany Hutchingame, Wallaceburg, ON

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