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Comets (celestial bodies)

Comet 13P/Olbers streaks across July sky: How skywatchers can view

The night sky has a visiting comet flaunting its faint tail for stargazers this summer.

The comet 13P/Olbers will make its closest approach to Earth later this month, according to NASA's .

The comet orbits the sun every 25,400 days. That's about every 70 years 鈥 69.54 to be exact. It was last be seen from Earth in 1956.

13P/Olbers will travel as close as 0.48 AU (astronomical unit) from Earth, according to . , so even just a half AU is long distance away.

Where to look for the 13P/Olbers comet in July

Predicting聽when and if a comet will become brighter as it passes by Earth is challenging. Viewers in the Northern Hemisphere have the best chance of seeing the comet.

The comet will hang low in the northwest sky, but it won't visible to the naked eye. It's best viewed about two hours after sunset with binoculars or small telescopes, according to .

Unable to view our graphics? Click here to see them.

Your observation window also depends on the weather and the brightness of nearby city lights. The comet should be visible from Saturday to July 21, according to .

When was the 13P/Olbers comet first seen

The comet was first viewed on March 6, 1815, by German astronomer 鈥 the comet's namesake. Later, astronomers and estimated the orbit to be just under 74 years, which is about five years shorter than the current number.

How to decipher the comet's 13P/Olbers name

鈼 The number 13 means the comet Olbers was the 13th comet to be recognized as periodic.

鈼 The letter P means the comet is periodic, or it orbits the sun in less than 200 years.

鈼 Olbers is for Heinrich Olbers, the name of the astronomer who discovered the comet.

More:Look up! A comet fragment shoots across the sky illuminating in shades of blue.

Comet 13P/Olbers orbit near Earth

The 13P/Olbers comet will be at its closest approach to Earth on July 20.

Because the comet is relatively close to Earth, it's classified as a by NASA. However, it's not considered to be dangerous.

CONTRIBUTING Jim Sergent/91影视

SOURCE NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, TheSkyLive.com, StarWalk.space and 91影视 research

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