COMET. Soon visible to the naked eye, comet C/2023 P1 Nishimura is gradually gaining in luminosity. When and how to observe it? Our recommendations so you don’t miss a thing!

Discovered on August 11 by a Japanese amateur astronomer, comet C/2023 P1, also known as comet Nishimura, named after its discoverer, is gradually approaching our planet. On September 13, it should be 128 million kilometers from Earth before passing close to the Sun, a perilous stage of its journey, which it may not resist.

Before approaching the Sun, the comet should be visible in the sky and give us a nice show. When will we be able to observe it with the naked eye? How do I find her on the vault of heaven? We tell you everything about the passage of this small body of ice and dust from the bottom of the solar system.

Comet C/2023P1 was discovered by a Japanese amateur astronomer named Hideo Nishimura on August 11. It was then evolving in an area located very close to the Sun which it should gradually approach. It will pass closest to the latter on September 18 at only 33 million kilometers.

According to the specialized site Star Walk, it is possible that this comet is periodic and makes a passage near the Earth approximately every 300 years. This means that it may have already been seen by some of our ancestors in the 18th or even the 15th century…

Comet Nishimura will pass through different constellations on its journey. Thus, you will find it in the constellation of Cancer until the beginning of September. It will then cross the constellation of Leo between September 7 and 15. From this date, the comet will be difficult to see in the light of dawn, but if its brightness allows it, it will be visible in the constellation of Virgo.

There are tools that will make it easier for you to locate the comet in the sky. This is the case of the Star Walk 2 applications (available on Google Play and App Store) and Sky Tonight (available on Google Play and App Store).

To have a chance to see comet Nishimura, you will have to be early in the morning since the latter will appear around 5:30 a.m. on August 31, 2023 and the following days in the constellation of Cancer. The more the days advance, the later its passage above the horizon will be. It will then merge with the lights of dawn and its observation will become more and more difficult. Until September 13, we can hope to be able to admire it despite the sunrise.

Comet Nishimura has been visible since August in the night sky to astronomers equipped with a telescope. But don’t panic, if you don’t have this type of equipment, it will be possible to admire it with the naked eye from September 7th. Its magnitude, i.e. its brightness, will be 4.3, which means that it will be bright enough to be visible without a tool.

You can also photograph a comet when it is visible to the naked eye with a simple camera with manual settings. You will be using a wide angle lens using fairly long exposures like 20 seconds and ISO 1600 (minimum 800). Attention, if the light pollution is important, it is advisable to lower the ISO. Think of composition, placing the comet above a building or a tree, or between two mountains. If you don’t have a tripod, use a self-timer to prevent the photo from being blurry when taken.

C/2023 P1 Nishimura is therefore the next comet to pass close to the Earth. To attend its next visit, it will be necessary to wait 300 years, so do not miss this celestial spectacle! Also in 2023, comet 103P Hartley could also “graze” Earth on October 13, 2023.

A comet is a celestial body made up of frozen gases, rocks and dust that originated from the formation of the solar system. These are real cosmic snowballs. So when this type of object passes close to the Sun, the latter heats the comet and melts the material. The comet then begins spitting out dust and gas in a gigantic glowing form, far larger than most planets. A comet’s size can vary from a few kilometers to tens of kilometers across when orbiting closest to the Sun. When its substances flow out, they form a spectacular cloud of gas and dust that trails behind it for millions of miles and that’s when it can be seen from Earth with the naked eye. .

Two tails form behind the comet. The first is made up of dust and is directly linked to the movement of the object. It is the most spectacular because it can measure several million kilometres. The second is made up of gas and is called the ionized tail.

Comets are formed from materials left over from the formation of the solar system. These objects are therefore witnesses to the formation of the solar system. “This material has not evolved, it has been kept intact, as if it had been placed in the freezer, and it is therefore the witness of these first moments.” said astrophysicist Françis Rocart, head of the Rosetta program in an article in Le Monde in 2014.

A comet’s nucleus is made up of frozen gases in the form of ice, rocks, and rock dust. Studies of Comet Tchouri indicate that it is also covered in carbon and have also spotted many organic molecules that had never been identified anywhere other than on Earth. Thus, it could be that the elements that allowed life to appear on our planet came from space and were brought in by an intensive bombardment 4 billion years ago. To find out more, we would have to study the composition of many other comets…