After 400 years of moving away from our planet, Comet Nishimura is set to show up again this month, astronomers recently announced. The new bright comet will light up our sky across the Northern Hemisphere in the middle of this month. Skywatchers living in the Northern Hemisphere can observe the comet in the early hours before dawn on September 12 and also spot it again on September 17.
After revealing itself on September 18, the Sun’s brightness will finally fade from our sight. Astronomers reveal that if the comet manages to survive its close approach to the Sun, it will surface in the Southern Hemisphere during the evening twilight towards the end of September.
How Comet Nishimura Was Discovered
An amateur astronomer named Hideo Nishimura from Kakegawa City in Japan reportedly discovered the comet on August 12, 2023. He captured 30-second exposures with his standard Canon DSLR camera and a telephoto lens. The astronomer processed the exposures and discovered a bright object rapidly traversing the inner region of our solar system.
The Minor Planet Center officially confirmed the discovery on August 15 and formally assigned it the name comet C/2023 P1 (Nishimura). The letter “C” stands for a non-periodic comet, implying that these types of comets originate from the Oort Cloud and also possess the potential of making a single pass throughout the solar system or come with orbital periods ranging from 200 to thousands of years before returning to the Sun’s region. Comet Observation Database (COBS) classified Nishimura as a “hyperbolic comet.”
The classification implies that the comet possesses excessive energy that is preventing it from being caught permanently within the solar system. Hence, this comet you are about to observe is truly one of its kind.
“It will visit us only once, with the sun acting as a gravitational slingshot, sending the comet hurtling back into deep space after its flyby,” the mentioned.
As the comet moves to leave the solar system, it must survive its next closest approach to the Sun within this month.
How Comet Nishimura Will Survive Its Close Approach To The Sun
Astronomers revealed that comets moving so close to the Sun for the first time often face a higher risk of disintegration. Nishimura may not survive the scorching nature of the Sun. Once the sunlight comes in contact with the comet’s surface, it may melt and disintegrate because of the heat and pressure created by the Sun and the solar wind.
Comet ISON is a perfect example of how the sun disintegrates comets that make a close approach to its region. However, comets moving closer to the Sun tend to become brighter as the heat changes their frozen core into dust and gas, thereby producing a long tail of light. Sunlight also revolves around the tails of these comets, making them visible from Earth.
The green color in the head of most comets originates from diatomic carbon, which is a reactive molecule that came into existence when the Sunlight interacts with organic matter residing on the comet’s surface. Scientists revealed that comet Nishimura will arrive at its perihelion on September 18. If it survives this closest approach to the Sun in its orbit, it implies that the comet is powerful enough to withstand the Sun’s radiation without disintegrating. Upon surviving the Sun, it will commence with its trip back.
How to Observe Comet Nishimura During Its Visit
After the discovery of comet Nishimura, astrophotographers from every part of Earth began to track the path of the space rock, capturing some fascinating photos of it. However, if you want to capture the best view of the comet, you should get your telescopes and binoculars ready starting from September 12 to 18.
The space rock is currently transiting the constellation Leo in the early hours before Sunrise. You can capture the best view of the comet on September 18, when it will appear more visible with a magnitude of 2.9. Astronomers reveal that small binoculars will give you the best view of this upcoming astronomical event.
“A problem is that the comet will also be angularly near the Sun, so it will only be possible to see it near sunset or sunrise,” NASA revealed in a blog post.
Comet Nishimura, discovered by a Japanese amateur astronomer is about to fly past Earth to make a close flyby around the Sun. Since the scorching nature of the sun often disintegrates comets that make a close approach to its region, scientists are wondering if comet Nishimura will survive this attempt. However, if it survives the sun, stargazers living in the Southern hemisphere can enjoy the fascinating view of the comet towards the end of the month. What do you think about this unique approach made by a comet? Check out these telescopes and binoculars to capture a glimpse view of this comet.