With the arrival of Comet PANSTARRS in our northern hemisphere skies next week, here is a fascinating story from NASA about a comet that will pass extremely close to Mars in October 2014.
Comet Siding Spring's current orbital predictions are that it could pass as close as 31,000 miles from the surface of Mars. With additional observations over the coming year the orbit will be refined and perhaps the comet will come even closer.
What is REALLY cool about this is that the current fleet of Mars-based assets both n the surface and in orbit could image the comet and give us a ring side view. Current estimates are that the comet could get as bright as zero magnitude - about as bright as the summer star Vega - or even brighter.
To Earth-bound the viewers the comet will probably be visible in binoculars and small telescopes. Now that will be a sight to see - a comet flying by Mars!
I will be following this story as it develops so stay tuned for more updates in the months to come.
Read More About It: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-081
Sky Guy in VA