Washington, Feb 11 (ANI): On February 24th, sky gazers will be treated to the spectacle of a rare green comet, as it would be make its closest approach to Earth that day.
According to a report in Discovery News, the comet, found by Quanzhi Ye, a meteorology undergraduate student at China's Sun Yat-Sen University in July 2007, has vivid green hues.
The color is caused by gases spewing off the comet nucleus as it heats up during its trip toward the sun. The gases glow green in sunlight.
Quanzhi Ye made the find in July 2007 while studying a picture taken by a Taiwanese astronomer working at the Lulin Observatory, for which the comet was named.
It became visible this month.
"The orbit of the comet indicates that it is coming from the outermost edge of the solar system, the so-called Ort Cloud, which is about 100,000 times more distant from the sun than the Earth," said Donald Yeomans, a senior research scientist who oversees NASA's Near-Earth Object program office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Comet Lulin's visit to the inner part of the solar system is likely its first, he added.
"It takes millions of years to get here," he told Discovery News.
"This one was probably born near Pluto, so if you wish to study the chemical mix that this region formed from, this one is a good one to look at," Yeomans said.
"It's a fairly bright comet, and it is a new comet, so the usual gang of astronomers will be jumping all over this - and not just in the visible light, but also in infrared and radio," he added.
Comet Lulin will rise a few hours before the sun and will be about one-third of way up in the southern sky before dawn.
On Feb. 16, you can use the bright star Spica in the constellation Virgo as a guidepost to spot the cosmic object, as the comet will pass right by it.
The morning of its closest approach, Comet Lulin will be a few degrees away from Saturn in the constellation Leo. (ANI)