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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Last Chance to See Comet Nishimura before It Disappears for 400 Years

Astrophotographers and skywatchers have been watching the comet with great interest

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Aditya Saikrishna
Aditya Saikrishna
I am 21 years old and an avid Motorsports enthusiast.

UNITED STATES: Time is running out for skywatchers eager to catch a glimpse of Comet C/2023 P1 Nishimura in the Northern Hemisphere. The celestial phenomenon, discovered by amateur astronomer Hideo Nishimura of Kakegawa City, Japan, on Aug. 12, is set to vanish from view in just a few days.

As the comet moves closer to the sun, it will no longer be visible in the pre-dawn hours, making this week the final opportunity for enthusiasts to witness its majestic journey. To catch a glimpse, early risers are advised to look east-southeast in the hour preceding dawn. 

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The Leo constellation will serve as a guiding beacon as the comet descends along the lion’s tail. By Sept. 16, it will rise in tandem with the sun, making it impossible to spot.

For optimal viewing, an unobstructed view of the horizon is essential. On the morning of Sept. 13, the comet will hover a mere eight degrees above the horizon—roughly the width of a clenched fist at arm’s length. Each subsequent morning, it will dip lower until it succumbs to the sun’s glare.

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Fortunately, a waning crescent moon, on its way to September’s new moon phase, promises darker skies, facilitating a clearer view of Comet Nishimura. Astrophotographers and skywatchers have been captivated by the comet’s journey, witnessing a rare disconnection event where it lost its tail to a powerful solar wind gust.

As perihelion, the closest approach to the sun, approaches on Sept. 18, the comet’s fate hangs in the balance. If it withstands solar radiation, observers in the Southern Hemisphere may have the chance to witness its celestial dance in the western sky from sunset until month’s end.

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Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness Comet Nishimura’s celestial performance before it takes a 400-year hiatus from our view.

Also Read: Once in a Lifetime Comet Nishimura to Grace Our Skies


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