Green Comet Lulin Passing by Earth Next Week
A green Comet called Lulin is set to pass by Earth next week, and the way that it travels looks like it is going backwards. This will be the only trip toward the sun that Lulin will take from the outer reaches of the solar system. It might be able to be seen with the naked eye, but most likely a telescope will be required.
The best time to get a glimpse of Lulin will be on Monday February 23rd, just before dawn as it will be closest to Saturn and the two stars Spica and Regula. On Monday night at about 10:43pm EST, it will be 38 million miles from Earth, and this will be the closest it will ever get to our planet.
The green trail may be hard to see to the naked eye, but it comes from a burning off of carbon and cyanogen - a poisonous gas. The comet Lulin was discovered two years ago by a teenager in China and unlike many other comets that pass by Earth, this one still have many of its original gasses.
While all the planets and most of the other objects in the solar system circle the sun counterclockwise, Lulin circles clockwise, said NASA astronomer Stephen Edberg.
Thanks to an optical illusion, from Earth it appears as if the comet's tail is in the front as the comet approaches Earth and the sun.
"It essentially is going backwards through the solar system," he said.