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View the new comet with naked eyes

A comet discovered earlier this year has now moved close enough to be visible to naked eyes. The comet is named after its discoverer California amateur Don Machholz. He found the comet on On August 27 2004.
Comet Machholz will be at its closest to Earth Jan. 5-6, 2005, when it will be 32 million miles (51 million kilometers) away. People with dark rural skies and a good map should be able to find it on Moon-free nights now into January.
Comet Machholz, officially named c/2004 Q2, is not expected to produce the sort of spectacular display put on by comet Hale-Bopp in 1997 or the periodically stunning Halley’s comet.
Machholz is expected to reach magnitude 4.0, based on an early estimate. On this astronomers’ scale, smaller numbers represent brighter objects. The dimmest things visible under perfectly dark skies are around magnitude 6.5. The brightest star, Sirius, is magnitude minus 1.42.
If the comet were to become roughly magnitude 3.0, it would still appear common among the sea of stars available to dark-sky observers. City and suburban dwellers would likely not find it without optical aid. In either case, binoculars or a small telescope might reveal the comet as more of a fuzzy patch, and if it develops a significant tail, that could be visible too.
The comet is low on the horizon now, where the atmosphere makes for poor viewing. By early January, the comet will be much higher in the sky, improving viewing conditions.




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