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16 May 2020 22:30

Comet Swan made its closest approach to Earth on May 13, at a distance of about 53m miles.

COMET Swan and its 11 million-mile-long tail could be visible in the night sky from tonight and you may be able to see it with the naked eye, astronomers say. But even if you don't catch a glimpse of the comet yet, make sure you go outside to wave at the International Space Station (ISS) as it orbits the earth - you may also spot some meteors. ISS will pass the UK at 10.03pm, when it will be bright, and then it will be brighter still at 11.39pm and 1.16am, if you stay awake. It is also expected to be incredibly bright on Sunday, May 17, at 10.51pm and at 28 minutes past midnight. The new comet was first spotted in April 2020, by an amateur astronomer named Michael Mattiazzo using data from a SOHO instrument called Solar Wind Anisotropies, or SWAN.

Newly-discovered Comet Swan with 11-million-mile tail shooting towards the Sun and wave at the International Space Station as it passes over the UK

The comet has already passed Earth, but is getting brighter as it gets closer to the sun. Comet Swan made its closest approach to Earth on May 13, at a distance of about 53m miles. Comet Swan's closest approach to the Sun, called perihelion, will happen on May 27. The behaviour of comets that make such close approaches to the Sun can be very difficult to predict, but scientists are hopeful that Comet Swan will remain bright enough to be seen as it continues its journey. It will be best viewed from the southern hemisphere, but those in the northern hemisphere will still be able to see it low on the horizon in the pre-dawn hours. The comet could become a more visible object by late May or early June. Starlink 7 launch Don't forget to email your cosmic photographs to [email protected]