You Can See an Incredibly Rare Comet in the Sky Right Now

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On 25 February this year, it will approach Earth's orbit, passing at a distance of almost 32 million miles (51 million kilometers) from Earth. It was brought out of hibernation to find and learn more about asteroids and comets that pose an impact hazard to Earth.

It is in an orbit that takes it on a scenic tour of our solar system. It passes near Mars's orbit and the main asteroid belt over a time span of 4.9 Earth-years after which it swings right inside Earth's orbit.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (Nasa) asteroid- and comet-hunting NEOWISE project has detected a mysterious object hurtling towards the Earth.

WF9 is a large body, though, from 0.3 to 0.6 miles across.

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While its orbit and reflectivity are typical for comets, 2016 WF9 does not have the cloud of gas and dust characteristic of comets.

The NEO manager of NASA center, Paul Chodas says, " Comet C/2016 U1 NEOWISE has a very good chance of becoming visible. As seen from the northern hemisphere during the first week of 2017, comet C/2016 U1 NEOWISE will be in the southern sky shortly before dawn.

NASA hopes the spectacle will give an opportunity to work out what exactly it is.

It will move farther south everyday and will get closest to the sun inside Mercury's orbit on January 14 before it will head back out of the outer solar system following an orbit that lasts for many, many years.

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WF9 is suspected to be either a dead comet or a dark asteroid from the main asteroid belt.

According to Tech Times, some researchers, after studying the orbit of 2016 WF9, concluded that it has been an old comet and lost most of the volatiles that forms the long tail.

Scientists, however, know that 2016 WF9 is roughly as big as 0.5 to 1 kilometre (0.3 to 0.6 mile) and is likely to enter Earth's orbit on February 25, 2017.

Nasa's Deputy Principal Investigator James Bauer, of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said: "2016 WF9 could have cometary origins". NASA, however, noted that identification of one of the two celestial objects is still unresolved. Comet C/2016 U1 NEOWISE is set to break binocular +10th magnitude brightness this week, and may just top +6th magnitude (naked eye brightness) in mid-January near perihelion.

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But NASA scientists are uncertain about the nature of the second object known as 2016 WF9. Reports also claim that the bodies, if they will fall into Earth's orbit, might pass the planet sometime in February.

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