The comet has a fuzzy greenish-yellowish head, with a blue tail some 10 million miles long!
More often than not, we have found ourselves looking up at the sky, perhaps we need to do that again, now more than ever!
Now that almost all regular activities on Earth have come to a halt maybe we will be more aware of the ever-dramatic heavens that surround our planet. And a celestial event is right around the corner.
During the wee hours Monday, May 18, 2020, you might be able to see a fuzzy greenish celestial body with a long blue tail of smoke streaking through the sky. This is the newly discovered Comet SWAN that will be streaking through the constellation Pisces. If you live in the southern hemisphere, you may have a chance to see this glazy ball of fire with the help of a pair of binoculars, reports Metro.
Best image of Comet C/2020 F8 Swan I’ve seen so far. Image was taken a few hours ago by Gerald Rhemann. pic.twitter.com/oefgYaeeb4— Con Stoitsis (@vivstoitsis) April 26, 2020
Being touted as the comet of the year, Swan is visible to the naked eye and is 89,231,732 km away from Earth.
Swan was discovered by an amateur astronomer from Australia, Michael Mattiazzo, as recently as April 11, 2020. He was analyzing data from Nasa’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) – mainly, images from the SWAN camera (Solar Wind Anisotropies instrument) – when he noticed a comet that suddenly appeared in images that were taken on March 25, 2020. It was given the name Comet SWAN after the device used to find it. While nothing much is known about the comet as of now, astronomers are trying hard to collect more information.
Here an incredible image of Comet C/2020 F8 (SWAN) taken by Gerald Rhemann. See the details in its tale.— Xavi Bros (@Xavi_Bros) May 13, 2020
It starts its visibility from north hemisphere, low over the horizon but we dont know if it will be a naked eye object. pic.twitter.com/TDrSPkkQUr
The first thing to keep in mind is that you have to wake up really early on Monday, May 18, to spot it. Next, while it could be visible to the naked sky and one needn't be an experienced skywatcher to spot it; a habit of general sky-gazing at night could enhance your chances of spotting, reports Forbes. Also, note that you will not get a lot of time because it will be a subtle sight and will fizzle out into the Sun's light soon. You can also download a sky tracking app such as SkyView (which has a free and a paid-for option) to orientate yourself.
I am VISIBLE to the naked eye! I am 88,960,206 km away from Earth and my current magnitude is 5.6. You can spot me near the Triangulum constellation.— Comet SWAN (@c2020f8) May 16, 2020
Please retweet and spread the word!#comet #cometc2020f8 #cometSWAN #C2020F8 #FollowTheComet
According to Forbes, here is when you should look up at the sky on Monday -
- London, U.K.: 03:23-04:21 a.m.
- New York City, U.S.: 04:25-05:04 a.m.
- Los Angeles, U.S.: 04:47-05:21 a.m.
- Miami, U.S.: 05:38-06:08 a.m.
The dates to look for Swan are:
- Monday, May 18 (before sunrise): On this day, the comet will be closest to the Earth, the brightest and the chances of spotting it will be the highest.
- Wednesday, May 20, 2020: Comet SWAN will be very close to the star Algol in Perseus in the pre-dawn sky.
- Tuesday, May 26: From this day onwards the viewing time will change from pre-dawn morning to post-evening sky.
Awaiting #CometSWAN & #CometAtlas as they will be flying closest to the surface of earth on May 13th & May 23rd, 2020, respectively.— Mayur Kantilal (@mayurkantilal) May 10, 2020
But in #India it can be visible with a naked eye just right to Venus as well as Comet with a tail around 28th May. pic.twitter.com/7xNJhaDMXu
- Wednesday, June 3, 2020 (after sunset): This might be another key date to spot the comet in a post-sunset sky.
According to The New York Times, another comet called the ATLAS burst and faded in the sky without being visible, late in April. And one cannot rule out the chances of the same happening to Swan too. But we look at the sky because we are hopeful that we will witness a marvel being unfurled by the cosmos!