TechComet 62P/Tsuchinshan's close encounter: catch the celestial spectacle on January 29

Comet 62P/Tsuchinshan's close encounter: catch the celestial spectacle on January 29

Comet - illustrative photo
Comet - illustrative photo
Images source: © Licensor | Domen Publiczna

10:05 AM EST, January 29, 2024, updated: 4:40 AM EST, March 7, 2024

Comet 62P/Tsuchinshan takes about 2,330 days to complete a full orbit around the Sun, which equates to a little over six years (6.38 years to be precise). Its closest brush with Earth will occur on January 29, 2024. Given favourable atmospheric conditions, spectators in the Northern Hemisphere should be able to spot the celestial body. It's worth noting that the night sky is best appreciated away from the city's lights, under a clear, cloudless sky.

Comet 62P/Tsuchinshan Nears Earth

Astronomy service 'In The Sky' reports that Comet 62P/Tsuchinshan is scheduled to grace the skies over central Poland around 5:06 PM ET. Skywatchers should keep their gazes trained on the eastern horizon. The comet is projected to reach its highest point in the sky by 9:35 PM ET, gradually disappearing by about 11:54 PM ET. 62P/Tsuchinshan is often dubbed a "binocular" comet owing to its visibility through a pair of binoculars. As we approach the end of January, the object's brightness is predicted to measure around 9.5 mag, suggesting viewers should equip themselves with binoculars fitted with a 40-50 mm lens.

The discovery of Comet 62P/Tsuchinshan dates back to January 1965, traced to the Zijinshan Astronomical Observatory based in Nanjing, China. Known as a short-period comet, it is part of a band whose orbits around the Sun take less than 200 years. 62P/Tsuchinshan lies in the constellation Leo, near the star Denebola, some 36 light years removed from the Sun.

The evening of Monday, January 29, will also feature the Starlinks. Elon Musk's "space train" will be visible at 5:19 PM ET and again at 6:52 PM ET. Viewers won't require any special equipment to observe these passes. As with the case of Comet 62P/Tsuchinshan, the right atmospheric conditions are crucial.

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