National GeoGraphic – Start Track

Watch the New Year’s Skies for a Green Comet

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Comet Lovejoy, snapped here through a telescope on December 16, is streaking through the night sky this holiday season.

Just in time for the holidays, the skies are serving up a special cosmic gift: a brightening comet that may not have been in our part of the solar system for nearly 12,000 years.

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This diagram shows the orbit and location of comet Lovejoy on Christmas week in relation to the orbits of Earth and its neighboring planets. Note that the comet is approaching the inner solar system nearly perpendicular to Earth’s orbit; that’s the reason the comet is appearing to switch from a Southern to Northern Hemisphere object in the sky over the next week or so.

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