An uncommonly green comet named Comet Lulin is making it’s closest approach to Earth on Feb. 24, 2009. Unfortunately for me, dark country skies will be required to see it. No one can say for sure, however, because this appears to be Lulin’s first visit to the inner solar system (weeeee!) and its first exposure to intense sunlight. Anything can happen.
Why is it green? The comet’s nucleus is spewing out cyanogen and diatomic carbon, both glow green when illuminated by sunlight in the near-vacuum of space.
To view it, set your alarm for 3 am since it rises a few hours before the sun and can be found about 1/3rd of the way up the southern sky just before dawn. Its closest approach to us will be on Feb. 24, just a few degrees from Saturn in the constellation Leo. Both Saturn and Comet Lulin should be obvious in the right sky conditions. Since this is a school night for me and the likelyhood of me seeing it in the city sky is very low, I will stay in bed. 🙁