Why you might not see that comet in the sky

A near-full Moon will likely obscure Comet 45P naked eye viewing. But it’s not impossible.
By | Published: February 10, 2017 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
Comet 252P/LINEAR appears to the left as a greenish blob, marking its fifth closest approach to Earth.
ESO/P. Horálek via WikiMedia Commons

Who doesn’t love a good comet? Especially when it comes on the night of a penumbral eclipse with a near full moon.

But about that … you probably won’t see it with the naked eye. Comet 45P will be at 7th magnitude, drowned out by the light of the full moon. In especially dark areas, you may be able to see it with binoculars, otherwise, a handy telescope can reveal it. However, the movement of the comet is fast enough that you’ll have to do some quick tracking as it moves across the night sky.

In other words … this won’t be a Halley’s Comet-like spectacle, or even Hale Bopp. Don’t look for a tail as the comet won’t really be giving off much of one after its close brush with the Sun. But for dedicated observers, the comet — whose closest approach is in the way, way early hours of Saturday morning — will make a tempting but challenging viewing target, at least for those with a telescope.

Senior editor Rich Talcott contributed to this report.