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Stargazers Unite: Closest Comet Since Discovery Passes Earth Tonight

1 Apr 2017, 6:54 am

As if I needed an excuse to stare off into space! Just ask my coworkers, it’s probably one of the things in life I’m best at.

But tonight’s stare has a purpose! Comet 41P Tuttle will pass earth tonight, and with a little work on your end, you too can see this rare passing!

41P Tuttle

Known by a much longer name, 41P/Tuttle-Giacombini-Kresák, was discovered three separate times in 1858, 1907, and 1951!
Only later did scientists realize all three comets were actually the same one!

This little gem will be the first to pass close enough to earth to see since Discovery!

At just 13.2 million miles away, this space zoomer comes closer to us than our neighboring planet on its best day.
But measuring less than a mile in diameter, it won’t be visible with the naked eye.

How to See 41P

Though the comet won’t be visible with the naked eye, the proper viewing tools shouldn’t be that hard to come by.
In fact, 41P is about 40 times dimmer than the faintest star you can see with your naked eye.

What you need to see it:

  • Good binoculars
  • Small telescope

Time to view:

  • After sunset (9pm should do the trick)


  • This one is actually very easy. Simply look to the handle of the big dipper in the night sky.
  • Find the bend in the handle and from there trace a line to the little dipper.
  • About half way between the two you should run into little 41P.

Photo: Thomas Bresson

Cloudy Night?

No worries, though the closest day of the passing will be on April 1st you still have a few days on the back side to catch a glimpse of the comet!
Just follow a similar viewing process and you’ll find it still scooting across the night sky.

For WeatherNation — Meteorologist Jeremy LaGoo

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