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Comet 41P Will Pass Closer To Earth Than Ever Before

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Prepare yourself for a close encounter with a comet, as one is passing closer to Earth than it ever has before.

Comet 41 P/Tuttle-Giacombini-Kresák (catchy) will be as close as 13.2 million miles from our planet during a six-day fly-by from March 29 to April 3.

It will be closest to Earth on April Fool's Day, but even then, you probably won't be able to see it with the naked eye, Space.com reports.

Instead, stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere should look through a small telescope or binoculars to see the comet, according to astronomers.

And if you can't spot the comet, which was first discovered about 150 years ago, you can tune in to a  live stream of the object flying over the Canary Islands, which will be captured by a telescope.

Sadly, it's unlikely to be an "impressive sight," according to Space.com, although it does have the potential for a "dramatic outburst in brightness."

This previously happened in May of 1973, when it appeared 10,000 times brighter than normal — a mystery that has been unexplained ever since.

Astronomer Joe Rao writes in Space.com,

Nobody knows for sure why the comet abruptly flared in 1973, but careful scrutiny of recent approaches to the sun in 1995, 2001 and 2006 suggest that outbursts in brightness tend to occur around the time it is passing closest to the sun.

However, another flare is unlikely, and the comet is about 50 times too dull for the naked eye for you to see it without a telescope.

But if you want the best chance to see a comet flying through the sky, you should keep a lookout at dawn and dusk on April 1.

Comet 41P is part of a group of Jupiter comets that orbit between the planet and the sun.

It was first discovered by astronomers in 1858, and it circles the sun every five-and-a-half years.

Guy Bunce on YouTube

Citations: No Joke: April Fools' Comet to Pass Closest to Earth Since Discovery (Space.com)