Written by Agastya Sharma, a grade 6 student (junior editor I Kid You Not).
The galaxy is full of great stars, planets, and many more celestial bodies. Each of these is very far away from each other. That’s a bit obvious, otherwise the universe would end up being a very crowded parking lot.
But occasionally, the metaphorical cars give each other a metaphorical bump. Such one car nearly cracked our bumper.
The comet C/2020 F3, better known as the Neowise comet, came the closest to the Earth on the 23rd of July. The comet Neowise is a long-period comet, which means it takes over 200 years to orbit the Sun once.
Two astrography enthusiasts (the art of photographing astronomical bodies) snapped up quite a few photographs from Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala.
NEOWISE was discovered by a team named (wait for it) NEOWISE and is one of the brightest comets in the Northern Hemisphere since Comet Hale-Bopp. It was first observed by a telescope on March 31, and named after the team on the 1st of April. It was closest to the Sun on the 3rd of July, with a distance of 43 million km (that’s practically a T-bone accident in our metaphorical parking lot) and it was closest to the Earth with a distance of 103 million km.
The trajectory of the comet seemed to show that it was heading away from Earth, and astronomers are not sure whether the comet is coming back. Some say it will, but that’s going to be after 6,800 years!
What are Comets?
Comets are small collections of dust and ice that orbit the Sun. They are said to be left over from the formation of the Solar System. When the comet passed the Sun, it warms releases gases – this is called outgassing. This produces a large amount of atmosphere, and sometimes also a tail.
There’s a world of wonders out there, and the extent of our knowledge is only a metre out from our bonnet. Hey, Mars, what’s the big idea, hogging the exit?