This remarkable comet has two tails, and will never again be near the Earth.
It’s a streak of brilliant green and it’s about to make a once-in-a-lifetime appearance as it nears our Earth: Comet Catalina, in all her glory.
This remarkable cosmic object actually has two tails, and it will be making its first and only trip through the inner solar system — after that it will disappear, never to be seen from here on Earth again, according to a CBC report.
Comet Catalina, or C/2013 US10, has been visible since late November as long as you live in the northern hemisphere and own a pair of binoculars. But it will reach its peak visibility on Jan 17 when it gets close to the handle of the Big Dipper, when it will move slowly. higher in the sky and start appearing earlier before dawn.
Viewing will be quite good on Jan. 8th through the 10th, because there will be no moon in the early morning sky and the comet will be quite close to the Earth. Still, you will need binoculars to get a good view of this fuzzy, green blob.
The two tails of Comet Catalina will be much more difficult to spot. You won’t be able to see those unless you snap a photo with a digital camera, making for a clearer image that will allow you to differentiate between the two tails.
Comet Catalina is less than 20 kilometers in width. It was discovered back in 2013 by Catlina Sky Survey in Arizona, which spends its time looking for near-Earth objects that could pose a threat. They thought it was an asteroid at first, but noticed its long orbit and its cometary attributes.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t yet become visible to the naked eye. Currently, it hovers at around a magnitude 6, whereas the faintest stars visible in rural areas with the naked eye are magnitude 5, so it is just outside naked eye visibility.