22 Feb :Stargazers are in for a treat as Comet Lulin will swing closest to Earth and is expected to be visible to the naked eye on Tuesday.Comet Lulin, also known as the "Green Comet" because of the green tint due the chemicals in its head, will be within 38 million miles from Earth.
"The comet is brightening every day as it approaches Earth," said Amar Sharma a Bangalore-based amateur astronomer who has been observing the comet for the past few days.
"On Tuesday, February 24 the comet will be at its closest approach to Earth and is expected to be visible to the naked eye," Nehru Planetarium Director N Rathnasree said.The comet will be visible as a faint green smudge low in the east-southeast sky before dawn.
If the weather is clear and there is no haze in the sky, one should be able to locate the comet. A pair of binoculars or a moderate telescope might be needed to view the comet from the light polluted areas of cities like Delhi, she added.
The comet will be situated very close to the planet Saturn on the said date, so it will be easier to locate.On the night of 23rd Feb, Lulin will be just two degrees south-southwest of the planet Saturn, which will serve as a good benchmark to locate the comet.
The most interesting characteristic of this comet is its orbit. Lulin is moving in the opposite direction as the planets, so its apparent velocity is quite fast.
It has a parabolic trajectory, which means it may have never come this way before, and this may be its first visit to the inner solar system.
Nehru Planetarium in collaboration with the Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE), will be conducting a public skywatch for observing the comet on 24th February evening from the lawns of the Teen Murti House.