Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova zips through the predawn sky this weekend.
Beginning on February 10, Comet 45/P will scoot across the constellations of Hercules, Corona Borealis, and Bootes—some 35 degrees of sky—in just four days. The rapid pace is the result of the comet’s proximity to our planet. On February 11, it will pass Earth at a distance of just 12,430,000 km—about 32 times the distance to the Moon. That may not sound very impressive, but 45/P’s flypast will be the eighth closest comet approach since the 1950s.
This weekend, Comet 45/P will glow at roughly magnitude 6, which would normally make it an easy binocular target. Unfortunately, interference from a bright Moon might make sighting the icy visitor tricky. Still, if your sky is clear, give 45/P a shot. The best time to look will be just before the onset of morning twilight when the Moon is low in the west and the comet is high in the southeast.
If you see 45/P, leave a comment below and let us know how it looked!