April Fools? No – this fuzzball comet is real!

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Wanting to unleash a good April Fool’s joke on you all, we found that there is so much fake news going around that a good old joke won’t raise even an eyebrow! Hence we go for something real, in the third dimension.

Green comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak has been flying over Earth’s North Pole this week; sky watchers can find it all night long not far from the bowl of the Big Dipper.

It is an easy target for backyard telescopes and almost visible to the naked eye. Amateur astronomer Yasushi Aoshima sent this picture of the approaching comet from Fukushima, Japan:

At closest approach today, April 1st,
it will be just 21 million km from Earth.

Green Comet
© Yasushi Aoshima, taken on March 22, 2017 in Fukushima, Japan

It is called Green because like many comets, 41P has a verdant hue as its atmosphere contains diatomic carbon (C2). This substance glows green in the near vacuum of space.

This is not considered a Great Comet, but it should be a good one. The best time to observe the comet is during the dark hours before sunrise when the green fuzzball is high in the northern sky.

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