Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2023 August 21
A dark starfield is shown with a dim green blur in the middle.
Faintly extending from the green blur is a tail toward the left.
Please see the explanation for more detailed information.

Introducing Comet Nishimura
Credit & Copyright: Dan Bartlett

Explanation: Will Comet Nishimura become visible to the unaided eye? Given the unpredictability of comets, no one can say for sure, but it currently seems like a good bet. The comet was discovered only ten days ago by Hideo Nishimura during 30-second exposures with a standard digital camera. Since then, C/2023 P1 Nishimura has increased in brightness and its path across the inner Solar System determined. As the comet dives toward the Sun, it will surely continue to intensify and possibly become a naked-eye object in early September. A problem is that the comet will also be angularly near the Sun, so it will only be possible to see it near sunset or sunrise. The comet will get so close to the Sun -- inside the orbit of planet Mercury -- that its nucleus may break up. Pictured, Comet Nishimura was imaged three days ago from June Lake, California, USA while sporting a green coma and a thin tail.

Tomorrow's picture: nebula unknown

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