Comet making closest approach ever of Earth

Comet making closest approach ever of Earth

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL - MARCH 10: The comet Hale-Bopp appears in the sky over Merrit Island, Florida, early 10 March, south of the Kennedy Space Center. The comet can be seen from late March to the beginning of April, before disappearing for the next 2,400 years. The comet is an occasional visitor from the outer solar system. AFP PHOTO Goerge SHELTON (Photo credit should read GEORGE SHELTON/AFP/Getty Images)

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KMOV.com

Posted on March 6, 2013 at 11:37 AM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 6 at 11:42 AM

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- A recently discovered comet is closer than it's ever been to Earth, and stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere finally get to see it.

   Called Pan-STARRS, the comet is passing within 100 million miles of Earth on Tuesday, its closest approach. This ice ball will get even nearer the sun this weekend -- just 28 million miles from the sun. That's within the orbit of Mercury.

   The comet has been visible for weeks from the Southern Hemisphere. Now the top half of the world gets a glimpse as well. The best viewing days should be next Tuesday and Wednesday, when Pan-STARRS appears next to a crescent moon at dusk in the western sky.

   Its name is actually an acronym for the Hawaiian telescope used to spot it two years ago.

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