The Earth will today, around 5:14 a.m. (PDT) that is 12:14pm (GMT) and 1:14pm Nigerian time, have its closest brush recorded with a passing comet since 1770.
According to a report by the United States Aeronautic Space Agency (NASA) first published by DailyMailUK online, two twin-like emerald comets will fly by the home planet at a safe distance, with the first occurring on Monday March 21, and the second passing by the following day around 7:30 a.m. (PDT) that is 2:30pm (GMT) and 3:30pm Nigerian time.
A comet is an icy small solar system body that, when passing close to the Sun, heats up and begins to outgas, displaying a visible atmosphere or coma, and sometimes also a tail. These phenomena are due to the effects of solar radiation and the solar wind upon the nucleus of the comet.
PDT is Pacific Daylight Time while GMT is Greenwich Mean Time. PDT is seven hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). PDT is a Daylight Saving Time zone, and is used in North America.
NASA astronomers say these two objects will come ‘remarkably close,’ with the latter comet approaching 2.2 million miles from Earth, the third closest flyby in recorded history.
The astronomers say an event like this is not expected to occur again within our lifetime. While the comets are considered close, people will still need a professional-grade telescope to catch a glimpse.
According to the report, the first comet to pass by is known as 252P/LINEAR. It is a 750-foot-large object, and will pass Earth at roughly 3.3 million miles away. A second comet, called P/2016 BA14, will fly by Earth at just 2.2 million miles, making this the third closest pass in recorded history. Comet P/2016 BA14 has a surprisingly similar orbit to the first comet, leading researchers to believe they may share a ‘twin nature.’