Earthlings will get a chance to view a rare comet with a good pair of binoculars. The comet is on its return journey and will move towards the outer realms of the solar system. The orbit lasts thousands of years. The comet has been christened C/2016 U1 NEOWISE.
The brightness of comets is notoriously unpredictable but there is a good chance of the comet being visible for stargazers with a pair of reasonably powerful binoculars. For the residents of the Northern Hemisphere, the comet will be visible in the southeastern sky shortly after dawn. Thankfully the comet will not constitute a danger to Earth.
The comet is moving in an orbit which will take it near to Mercury and will reach the closest point to the sun on January 14, before turning round and moving back to its long return journey to the outer realms of the solar system.
The NEOWISE or the Near Earth Orbit identification mission has identified several objects which are moving in the close vicinity of the Earth’s orbit. The present comet was discovered by the NEOWISE project on November 27 last year. Most of the comets and the asteroids originate from a region far beyond the Jupiter’s orbit. The comet in its course of 4.9 Earth years travels under this asteroid belt and the orbit of Mars before it swings into the Earth’s orbit and heads back into the outer reaches of the solar system.
Comets and asteroids in this type of orbits have a variable point of origin. It could either be a regular visitor or it could also be a strayed member from the main asteroid belt. Most asteroids and comets pass safely at a distance of millions of miles from Earth. However, it is also an undeniable fact that occasionally some asteroids stray from their path and hit the Earth with cataclysmic consequences. An asteroid is believed to have caused the extinction of dinosaurs from Earth.