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New Comet Nishimura Could Be Visible Over This Weekend - Oregon / Washington Coast Astronomy

Published 09/08/23 at 6:27 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

New Comet Nishimura Could Be Visible Over This Weekend - Oregon / Washington Coast Astronomy

(Oregon Coast) – You may get astronomically lucky in the next few days if you're on the Oregon coast or Washington coast. (Photo Credit & Copyright: Dan Bartlett)

A brand new comet was discovered last month and it's already been making some stellar appearances in the skies and for some photographers. However, for those of us in the northern hemisphere it's proving a little difficult – but it's still possible to spot and the chances are increasing over the weekend.

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Comet Nishimura (C/2023 P1) has been visible for a good week now, especially those with high-powered camera gear, and there have been plenty of stunning shots floating around the social ether. Astronomers are saying its best viewing days may have already started yesterday.

It rises above the horizon about 4:30 a.m. and gets later everyday, coming up in the east. As it closes in on the Sun it's getting brighter (the closest point is called perihelion).

“By Sunday morning (the 10th), it will rise around 5 A.M. local daylight time,” said “This is because the comet is rapidly approaching the Sun, so it appears to be moving quickly through our sky. By perihelion, it will rise with the Sun and won’t be visible at all (or again) above the equator.”

Gianluca Masi / Virtual Telescope Project

It's possible that Nishimura could heat up to become as bright as a magnitude 2. That's still fairly dim, and much dimmer than Comet Neowise was three years ago. However, that still would put it in the realm of possibility for the naked eye.

Experts are suggesting you should use binoculars, especially up here in Oregon and Washington coast territory of the northern hemisphere. It has shown itself to be quite spectacular using that gear, or decent photographic rigs.

To find it, it's low on the eastern horizon – which may also pose problems for the Washington and Oregon coastlines. Look for the constellation Leo, in the northeast, as it's rocketing its way through there. Those in eastern Washington and Oregon will likely have a clearer line-of-sight to this interstellar visitor.

The comet was discovered on August 12 by amateur Hideo Nishimura, which was a bit unusual as there are many professional eyes trained on the skies looking for near-Earth objects these days. It's expected to not be visible long, however. Its next appearance won't be for another 400 years, so unless you've unlocked some secret for a long life beyond that, you're out of luck.

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Nishimura will get rather invisible from the sun's glare around the 17th.

The comet will slink past Earth on the 12th at about 78 million miles away. It's a ball of ice and dust about a half mile wide, say astronomers.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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