Astronomers are puzzling over a comet that passed “insanely close” to the sun on Feb. 19th. At first glance it appeared to be a small object, not much bigger than a comet-boulder, doomed to disintegrate in the fierce heat. Instead, it has emerged apparently intact and is actually brightening as it recedes from the sun.
Unofficially, the icy visitor is being called “SOHO-2875,” because it is SOHO’s 2,875th comet discovery.
Karl Battams of the Naval Research Lab explained to Spaceweather: “It’s a ‘non-group comet,’ meaning that it does not appear to be related to any other comet or comet family that we have on record.”
“Non-group comets like this appear a few times a year, so in that sense it’s not too unusual,” continues Battams. “But this one is relatively bright.
The big question most people will have now is, Can I see it, or will I be able to see it, from Earth? At first I thought the answer was no. But I am very pleasantly surprised – shocked in fact! The comet has brightened dramatically and now is sporting an increasingly impressive tail. Visibility from Earth in a few weeks is no longer out of the question, although I still wouldn’t put money on it.”