Stargazers should be on the lookout for coinciding celestial sights this weekend: a snow moon, a four-hour lunar eclipse, and a glowing green comet, all said to be visible throughout Europe from February 10-11 .
The comet, known as 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova for the astronomers who discovered it—Antonin Mrkos (Czech), Ľudmila Pajdušáková (Slovak), and Minoru Honda (Japan)—was last visible in the fall of 2011.
It will zoom through the sky at 51,000 mph, passing within 12.4 million kilometers from earth, in the early hours of Saturday morning, February 11.
According to the Astronomical Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences, the comet will be so bright this year that all you will need to view it are binoculars or a small telescope, or perhaps even just the naked eye. Conditions for this kind of superior visibility won’t occur again this century.
Local astronomers suggest moving as far away as possible away from large cities and significant sources of light in order to get the best view of the comet which will be visible from the constellation Hercules.
While the comet will be closest to the earth on February 11, astronomers say that from February 9 it should already be visible throughout the entire night.
After February 14, you can spot comet 45P as early as 9pm above the eastern horizon if there is no interference from the moon; from February 20 the comet will fade.
A live stream of the fly-by is currently in countdown mode (see above).