You Can See A Newly Discovered Comet With Just Binoculars This Week

Comet Jacques C/2014 E2 in the Evening sky, August 17, 2014 / Chris Schur
Janet Fang 06 Sep 2014, 00:48

Back in March of this year, Brazilian astronomers with the Southern Observatory for Near Earth Asteroids Research welcomed a new visitor to the inner solar system. They named it C/2014 E2, or Comet Jacques for SONEAR’s Cristóvão Jacques Lage de Faria, and it’s predicted to be one of the brightest comets we’ll see in 2014. 

Traveling through space at about 180,000 kilometers per hour, the comet passed within only about 14.5 million kilometers of Venus on July 13. Comet Jacques made its closest approach to Earth 84 million kilometers away on August 28, and it’s fading rapidly. This week may be the last opportunity for us to see this recently discovered comet using just binoculars (with at least 7x50 power) -- or maybe with the naked eye if you’ve got eyes like an eagle. 

Here's a photo of Comet Jacques with the Elephant's Trunk nebula IC1396, taken on August 30:

Right now, the comet will be directly overhead for observers anywhere in the northern hemisphere, Space.com reports. Look for the bright stars of the constellation Cygnus. Jacques will appear like a bright galaxy, and you probably shouldn't expect to see much of its greenish coma or the comet's tail (but you can check out this July photo of its elongated tail). 

Real-time information about the outbound comet can be found here. And as you can tell from the counter, it’s heading far, far, farther away. 

Images: Schurs Astrophotography (top, middle), Scott MacNeill, Frosty Drew Observatory (bottom)

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