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Watch Comet Africano (C/2018 W2) pass closest to Earth in late September

23 Sep 2019, 20:47 UTC
Watch Comet Africano (C/2018 W2) pass closest to Earth in late September
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C/2018 W2 (Africano) is the brightest comet currently on show, passing closest to Earth on the morning of 27 September when it lies slightly less than half an astronomical unit or 74 million kilometres distant. By the end of the month, C/2018 W2 could attain magnitude +8.5 making it a viable target for small telescopes and larger binoculars under dark, moonless skies. This graphic represents the southeast aspect of the sky around 10pm local time in Western Europe, showing a portion of sky about 60 degrees wide (three times the span of an outstretched hand at arm’s length), with stars down to the naked-eye limit. The “Square of Pegasus” asterism is your eye-catching starting point. Note that on the night of 3–4 October, Comet Africano lies within a binocular field of view of outermost planet Neptune. AN graphic by Ade Ashford.Now that the Moon is a waning crescent rising after midnight, observers in the British Isles can take advantage of at least three hours of darkness from 9pm BST to track down Comet Africano (C/2018 W2) at its closest and brightest as it speeds through the constellations of Pegasus, Pisces and Aquarius.
At 10:56 UT on 27 September, C/2018 ...

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