- Jose Bautista punched in the jaw during huge brawl with Rangers – Watch
- NASCAR revises lug nut policy after Stewart’s criticism – Details
- Harden should’ve been called for foul on game-winner NBA says – Details
- Jason Whitlock calls Kobe Bryant a fraudulent celebrity athlete ‘Watch’
- Jason Heyward Bees Attack Delays Cubs-Mariners Game “Watch”
- Tray Walker: “Ravens cornerback” Dies of Injuries From Dirt Bike Crash, sad day for NFL
- Victor Cruz Willing To Accept Pay Cut To Stay With New York Giants “Details”
- Orioles ban pie celebrations due to safety concerns ‘Details’
- Marc Gasol: “Memphis Grizzlies center” out the rest of the season
- Vince Carter matches Drummond with impressive 3/4 court shot – Watch
Rare Comet Detected By NASA, May Be Visible From Earth This January
- Updated: January 5, 2017
An object detected by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) is set to travel close to Earth meaning we could see it with just a pair of binoculars.
Researchers confirm it is a comet because it is releasing gas and dust as it heads toward its closest point to the Sun, known as perihelion.
It will reach that milestone, located within Mercury’s orbit, on January 14.
Depending on its brightness, which varies, as is typical for comets, C/2016 U1 may be visible to northern hemisphere viewers with binoculars.
Astronomers are uncertain as to whether the second object, 2016 WF9, is an asteroid or comet. First observed by NEOWISE in late November, it has a solar orbit of 4.9 years which takes it from about Jupiter’s location to just within Earth’s orbit.
Estimated to have a size between 0.3 and 0.6 miles (0.5 to one km), this object is dark, reflecting only a small percentage of the sunlight that hits it.
While its orbit and reflectivity are typical for comets, 2016 WF9 does not have the cloud of gas and dust characteristic of comets.
Its orbit suggests it could have once been a comet that broke apart. It could also be an asteroid from the main belt that was once part of a group of similar dark objects but somehow separated from them.
“This object illustrates that the boundary between asteroids and comets is a blurry one; perhaps over time, this object has lost the majority of the volatiles that linger on or just under its surface,” explained James Bauer of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
2016 WF9 will make its closest approach to Earth on February 25, coming within almost 32 million miles of our planet.