Science & Technology

Comet Neowise makes closest approach to Earth

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, Jul 23 (efe-epa).- Comet Neowise will make its closest approach to Earth on Thursday.

The comet, which is officially called C/2020 F3, is more commonly known by the name of the space telescope which discovered it.

This five-kilometer-wide chunk of ice and dust is due to pass our planet at a distance of 103 million kilometers.

Miquel Serra-Ricart, administrator of the Teide Observatory at the Canary Islands Institute of Astrophysics (IAC), told Efe the comet will be easy to snap pictures of, even using a mobile phone, making it the most photographed comet in history.

He added that the Moon will grow over the next couple of days which will make Neowise harder to see.

Comets are objects in the solar system composed mainly of ice and dust, which is why they are known as “dirty snowballs”.

They move around the Sun in highly elliptical orbits, with periods ranging from a few years to hundreds of thousands.

As they approach the Sun, the heat melts the ice releasing gases and dust particles that form the comet’s tail, which can measure more than one million kilometers, the IAC said in a statement.

The solid part of a comet, the nucleus, can range in size up to 40 kilometers.

Most comets come from the Oort cloud, a spherical cloud around one lightyear from the Sun, while others originate in the Kuiper Belt, a doughnut-shaped ring of icy objects around the Sun, and are usually more short-lived, less than 200 years.

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