Newly Found Comet SWAN Approaches Earth And Promises Dazzling Display

(Star Walk 2 contains everything you need to be up to date with the top astronomical events.)

Comet C/2020 F8 (SWAN): Discovery

C/2020 F8 (SWAN) or Comet SWAN was discovered on April 11, 2020, by an amateur astronomer from Australia, Michael Mattiazzo. He was analysing data from NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), namely images from the SWAN camera (Solar Wind Anisotropies instrument). Michael noticed a comet suddenly appeared in images that were taken on March 25, 2020. It was a new Comet SWAN, named after the SOHO’s device.

How to see Comet SWAN in the sky?

C/2020 F8 (SWAN) is 1.1 AU (99 million miles, 160 million km) from Earth. It is now better seen from the Southern hemisphere and is expected to reach naked-eye visibility by mid-May. The comet is currently located in the constellation Sculptor, near the star Fomalhaut. Shining at an apparent magnitude of 8, Comet SWAN is now bright enough to be seen in binoculars. In late April, the comet will cross the constellation of Aquarius. In May, it will pass near or through the constellations Pisces, Cetus, Aries, Perseus, and Auriga.

Will it become a naked eye object?

According to the calculation of the comet’s orbit, C/2020 F8 (SWAN) will make the closest approach to our planet at a distance of 52 million miles (84 million km) on May 12, 2020. Around May 27, 2020, the comet is expected to reach perihelion (closest approach to the Sun), when it will be 40 million miles (64.4 million km) distant.



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