A newly discovered green comet is zipping by Earth and is now visible for the first time in more than 400 years. Comet Nishimura was discovered by amateur Japanese astronomer Hideo Nishimura on August 11 and named after him. Nishimura first spotted it by taking long exposure shots using a Canon digital camera and a telephoto lens.
What is green comet?
When our solar system first formed, huge amounts of debris were left over. So what we see as a comet is a chunk of dirty ice that remains from that time. Comets typically stay far away from the sun, frozen and impossible for us to see. But every once in a while, one will come in toward the sun. As the heat from the sun begins to evaporate the icy material that makes up the comet, the dirt and dust inside gets freed, leaving behind the tail of the comet, which is what we see from Earth. In the age of automated telescopes, Nishimura’s discovery is quite the feat.
How can you see it?
Right now, it’s only visible from the northern hemisphere. You need to get up before the sun and look toward your eastern horizon, so find a place where you can see very low on the horizon. Your best shot at seeing this comet is Tuesday morning, when it’s closest to Earth. It will be closest to the sun on Sept. 17, after which it will come around and be visible from the southern hemisphere. To find it, look in the constellation of Leo. You will need binoculars or a small telescope to get a good view.