It’s not too late to catch an incredibly rare comet before it whips back around the sun, only to disappear for another 435 years. Over the next four days — with the help of binoculars — you can still get a glimpse of Comet Nishimura (C/2023 P1), for a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (Earthlings won’t get another chance until the 2450s).
Comet Nishimura was discovered on August 11 by Hideo Nishimura, a comet-hunter and amateur astronomer, who spotted the green glow of the fiery ice-ball while using a telescope in Kakegawa City, Japan, according to CBC News.
The comet has already had an eventful trip in our neighborhood: Two weeks ago a powerful solar wind blasted off Nishimura’s tail, which has since grown back. While some sky watchers speculate that the comet might be destroyed by its close turn around the sun on Sept. 17, most expect it survive and continue its epic orbit.
The Comet Nishimura sky show can still be enjoyed with binoculars for a few more days, but the sooner you try to catch the comet the better — as it moves further away from Earth, visibility will fade with each passing day.
How To See Comet Nishimura This Week
If you and your family live in the Northern Hemisphere, early Wednesday morning represents your best remaining shot at catching Nishimura. You’ll need to be up and looking about an hour before sunrise, with a clear view of the horizon and with binoculars (or telescopes) trained in an east- southeasterly direction.
To make spotting the comet a little easier, visit TheSkyLive.com and enter your location to narrow down when the comet rises and sets in your area. The comet is passing through the Leo constellation and will be traveling down the lion’s tail, appearing just a few degrees above the horizon — “less than the width of your fist at arm's length,” according to Space.com.
While getting up well before dawn and searching the vastness of the night sky for the tiny green glow of Comet Nishimura may present a few gentle challenges, it’s the effort, the optimism, and the excitement of this cosmic search that makes it the perfect adventure to sneak in before work begins and the schoolbell rings.