"April Fool’s Day" comet to pass by Earth

On April 1, 2017, comet 41P will pass closer than it normally does to Earth, giving observers with binoculars or a telescope a special viewing opportunity. Comet hunters in the Northern Hemisphere should look for it near the constellations Draco and Ursa Major, which the Big Dipper is part of. Whether a comet will put on a good show for observers is notoriously difficult to predict, but 41P has a history of outbursts, and put on quite a display in 1973. If the comet experiences similar outbursts this time, there’s a chance it could become bright enough to see with the naked eye. The comet is expected to reach perihelion, or its closest approach to the sun, on April 12. A member of the Jupiter family of comets, 41P makes a trip around the sun every 5.4 years, coming relatively close to Earth on some of those trips. On this approach, the comet will pass our planet at a distance of about 13 million miles (0.14 astronomical units), or about 55 times the distance from Earth to the moon. This is the comet’s closest approach to Earth in more than 50 years and perhaps more than a century. Read more: go.nasa.gov/2nLNzes Photo caption: In this image taken March 24, 2017, comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresák is shown moving through a field of faint galaxies in the bowl of the Big Dipper. On April 1, the comet will pass by Earth at a distance of about 13 million miles (0.14 astronomical units), or 55 times the distance from Earth to the moon; that is a much closer approach than usual for this Jupiter-family comet. Photo credit: Image copyright Chris Schur©, used with permission NASA image use policy. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission. Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook Find us on Instagram

Wild 2 Close Look

This image shows the comet Wild 2, which NASA’s Stardust spacecraft flew by on Jan. 2, 2004. This image is the closest short exposure of the comet, taken at an11.4-degree phase angle, the angle between the camera, comet and the Sun. http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA06285

Comet Jacques Approaches the Sun

NASA’s Solar TErrestrial Relations Observatory, STEREO has observed the recently discovered Comet Jacques as it passed by its nearest approach to the Sun (July 1-6, 2014). The wide field instrument on board STEREO (Ahead) showed the comet with its elongated tail being stretched and pummeled by the gusty solar wind streaming from the Sun. Also visible near the center of the image is the bright planet Venus. The Sun is just out of the field of view to the right. Comet Jacques is traveling through space at about 180,000 km per hour (110,000 mph). It may brighten enough to be seen with the naked eye. High res still here: www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/14710024276/ Download original file: sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/pickoftheweek/old/11jul2014/ Credit: NASA/Goddard/STEREO NASA image use policy. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission. Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook Find us on Instagram

Comet ISON May Have Survived

This movie shows Comet ISON orbiting around the sun – represented by the white circle — on Nov. 28, 2013. ISON looks smaller as it streams away, but scientists believe its nucleus may still be intact. The video covers Nov. 27, 2013, 3:30 p.m. EST to Nov. 29, 2013, 8:30 a.m. EST. Continuing a history of surprising behavior, material from Comet ISON appeared on the other side of the sun on the evening on Nov. 28, 2013, despite not having been seen in observations during its closest approach to the sun. The question remains whether it is merely debris from the comet, or if some portion of the comet’s nucleus survived, but late-night analysis from scientists with NASA’s Comet ISON Observing Campaign suggest that there is at least a small nucleus intact. Credit: ESA/NASA/SOHO/Jhelioviewer NASA image use policy. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission. Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook Find us on Instagram

Comet ISON Seen Coming and Going

"Timelapse" series of images of comet ISON as viewed by ESA/NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO. This image is a composite, with the sun imaged by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory in the center, and SOHO’s two coronagraphs showing the solar atmosphere, the corona. The most recent image in this is from 5:30 p.m. EST on Nov. 29, 2013. Continuing a history of surprising behavior, material from Comet ISON appeared on the other side of the sun on the evening on Nov. 28, 2013, despite not having been seen in observations during its closest approach to the sun. The question remains whether it is merely debris from the comet, or if some portion of the comet’s nucleus survived, but late-night analysis from scientists with NASA’s Comet ISON Observing Campaign suggest that there is at least a small nucleus intact. Image Credit:ESA&NASA/SOHO/SDO NASA image use policy. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission. Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook Find us on Instagram