Worldwide icon-chevron-right North America icon-chevron-right United States icon-chevron-right Stargazers, this comet may be bright enough to be seen by the naked eye
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Stargazers, this comet may be bright enough to be seen by the naked eye

Ladies and gentlemen, meet comet SWAN.


It's called SWAN (which stands for Solar Wind ANisotropies instrument) and it's a new comet that's poised to, perhaps, be visible via naked eye some time in May.

Interestingly enough, just a few months ago, scientists noticed a different comet, this one dubbed ATLAS, quickly brightening across our skies. The trend led some to speculate that ATLAS, which was set to follow the same orbit as the Great Comet of 1844, might eventually be seen by folks on Earth without visual aids. That didn't happen: the star broke down into pieces, along with it shattering stargazers' hopes and dreams. 

But now, we might able to catch the space-related event after all. As of this moment, SWAN can only be seen from south of the equator, near constellation Sculptor, through binoculars. The comet's path will reach its closest point to Earth—that would be 51.7 million miles away—on May 12. According to its current rate of brightening, it should be visible via naked eye between May 15 and 23—so mark your calendars. 

Keep in mind that the comet is a small one, so the chances of it being bright and large enough to be caught by simply looking up remain small—but here's to hoping.

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