A comet discovered just this month is set to approach Earth in September. The comet, formerly known as Comet C/2023 P1 Nishimura, was first spotted by Hideo Nishimura of Kakegawa, Japan on August 11. Now, after just a few short weeks of tracking the comet, skywatchers may get a chance to see it from the comfort of their backyards, at least in some places.
The comet was first spotted hiding within the sun’s glare, and astronomers say that it will continue to grow brighter as it grows closer to the sun. However, this closeness to the sun could also make the comet much harder to see, especially without additional equipment.
EarthSky.org says that the comet Nishimura will most likely be visible on September 12. However, the path that the comet is on is still not guaranteed, as astronomers are still watching and observing the new discovery. The comet is expected to pass close to 78 million miles (125 million kilometers) from Earth on that day. On September 17, they expect the comet to pass within 27 million miles of our star.
As noted above, though, some of the details of this path may change as we observe the comet for longer. While some believed the comet could be an interstellar guest when it was first noticed, others now say that it is a “local” comet, meaning it is from within our solar system. They also believe that it orbits the sun every 202 years, which means this is humanity’s last chance for a close look until 2225.
If you’re interested in seeing the comet for yourself, you can check out EarthSky.org’s video explainer for more details about the comet Nishimura, including more about the path it will take in the night sky. Scientists hope that the comet will be visible without the need for a telescope or other equipment, though that isn’t a guarantee at the moment.
In the past, other comets have come close to Earth, like the rare green comet that passed Earth in February.