First a meteor exploded in Russia and then an asteroid passed very close to Earth. Now, two comets are expected to give a show for sky watchers in the Northern Hemisphere.
This year will see the comet Pan-STARRS, which is named after the telescope that discovered it in June 2001: the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System, Hawaii.
Although it is visible with telescopes in the southern hemisphere, will be seen in the northern hemisphere from March 8.
It is difficult to predict exactly how brighter the Pan-STARRS, but it should be noted without binoculars or telescopes, said Don Yeomans Object Program Near Earth from NASA. It should be almost as bright as the stars of the Big Dipper.
“There is a possibility that it is a little brighter than these, but may not become so bright,” said Karl Battams, Naval Research Laboratory.
Part of brightness depends on how close the Pan-STARRS is the Sun Comets are composed of water, ice, dust, and other elements and minerals that walk together Battams said. When a comet approaches the sun, the heat causes these elements are founded, achieving a bright line in the dust and gas.
“The closer you are, the stronger the radiation and the elements will melt more,” he said.
It is expected that Pan-STARRS is close enough to the Sun That’s bad news for the comet, but it could be a boon for skywatchers by becoming brighter and easier to see.
But it can also collapse and disappear. If he survives his sun bath, should be on the horizon in the western sky for a couple of weeks, said Battams.
“About half an hour after sunset is a good time for people to take a look,” he said.
Some of the key dates
March 5: Pan-STARRS comet will be at its closest point to Earth.
March 10: The comet will pass closest to the Sun
12 and 13 March: the best time to look for the Pan-STARRS, should appear in the western evening sky, not far from the crescent.
Some tips for whale
Safety first and foremost. Do not look at the comet until the sun sets. Not observe the Sun through binoculars or telescopes, otherwise there is a risk of damaging the eye.
Find a good spot. Pan-STARRS Comet will be near the horizon, so it is best located away from trees and buildings.
Sharpen sight. The sky will remain bright after dark, which can make it difficult to detect comets.
Conditions. If the sky is clear, and there is little light pollution at the site, it is more likely to spot the comet with the naked eye. If not, will you get binoculars.
Second chance to see a comet
If in your quest for the first comet of the year you do not succeed, there is another opportunity to see one of these shows later in 2013: ISON comet.
This star was discovered by the Russians atronamos Nevski and Artyom Novichonok Vitali in September 2012. It was named by the International Scientific Optical Network, its curriculum.
Some scholars of comets as well as journalists, have said the ISON is “the comet of the century”. But Yeomans, NASA, does not think so. He remembers being deceived by another comet with the same name in 1973, Kohoutek, and was disappointed.
“Predicting the behavior of comets is like predicting the behavior of cats, you can not really do,” he said.
So here is the famous ISON: November 28 is expected to dive into the atmosphere of the Sun If it survives, it could be as bright as the moon and to be briefly visible in broad daylight. Its tail can achieve a great stretch in the night sky.
Battams is optimistic, but says he will not know until the end of summer approaching ISON.
“I would be surprised if we have a bright comet in the fall and / or winter, but it’s still too early to speculate,” he said.
So, as Pan-STARRS, ISON fate will be decided by the Sun could burn brightly and win the title of “Comet of the Century”, or may melt or crack.
Scientists say that no comet pose a threat to Earth, but two comets that come together in one year represent a rare occasion that sky watchers could enjoy the naked eye.