Comet "Swan" is rapidly brightening, gaining brightness and, according to astronomers' estimates, the luminosity has already reached a magnitude of +5, 5. At the moment, the comet for the human eye is nothing more than a dim glowing ball, but the view through a telescope is stunning.
"This is a 30-minute exposure through my 12-inch telescope," says Reman from Namibia, who also made a great animation of the comet. In just 40 minutes of tracking, complex waves and curls of gas can be seen radiating along the comet's tail.
The comet's tail is so long that Remann could not fit it into his field of vision. “In my photo it is about 1.2 degrees long,” he says. However, I know from friends who have photographed wider fields that it actually extends about 8 degrees across the sky. In comparison, the bowl of the Big Dipper is wide 10 degrees.
The swan comet is closest to the Earth on May 12 at a distance of 0.56 AC. It's not very close, but it could be a good show anyway. If current trends continue, the comet will brighten up to 3rd magnitude or better, like the stars of the Pleiades. Observers in the Southern Hemisphere will have little problem seeing her glide through the constellation of Pisces.
Much about the comet swan remains unknown. It was discovered just a few weeks ago, on April 11, when a sudden release of hydrogen from a comet made it appear in data from the solar and heliospheric observatory's SWAN instrument.
The swan comet's hyperbolic orbit suggests it may be the first visitor to the inner solar system. These newbies are notorious for being unpredictable, so no one can say for sure what will happen next.