1 January 2017 | Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková

Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková

Image credit & copyright: José J. Chambó | Click image to enlarge

Image Data

  • Camera: Canon EOS-100D
  • Optics: GSO 8″ f/3.8

Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková, named after the astronomers who discovered it in 1948, takes 5.25 years to complete its orbit. In 2016, it was first visible on the low western horizon on December 15.

It will reach its perihelion — the point of orbit when an object is closest to the sun — today, making its orbit around the sun and disappearing from visibility from Earth. It will be viewable, and reach its maximum brightness, once it swings back around the sun.

The comet’s maximum brightness will be about magnitude 6 — the equivalent of looking at a faint star with the naked eye.

The comet’s presence on New Year’s — a celebration of the year to come and possibilities ahead — is a stark juxtaposition from the typical symbolism of comets as harbingers of destruction. Ancient cultures often viewed them as messages from the gods.

Halley’s Comet was blamed for earthquakes, illnesses and even the Black Death. And whether it’s in movies or cults, comets today are still seen as things that can bring about the end of the world. But those who are worried about this particular comet bringing Earth’s destruction — don’t fret. 45p will be a good 0.083 astronomical units away — which is more than 12 million kilometers.

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