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Comet Making Closest Approach Ever of Earth

Posted at: 03/05/2013 11:02 AM
By: MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - A recently discovered comet is closer than it's ever been to Earth, and stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere finally get to see it.

Called Pan-STARRS, the comet is passing within 100 million miles of Earth on Tuesday, its closest approach. This ice ball will get even nearer the sun this weekend - just 28 million miles from the sun. That's within the orbit of Mercury.

The comet has been visible for weeks from the Southern Hemisphere. Now the top half of the world gets a glimpse as well. The best viewing days should be next Tuesday and Wednesday, when Pan-STARRS appears next to a crescent moon at dusk in the western sky.

Its name is actually an acronym for the Hawaiian telescope used to spot it two years ago.

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