New Year's Comet A Bad Omen? Comet 45P To Herald Year Of Better Comet Viewing
Comet 45P is expected to appear near the crescent moon on New Year's Eve.
It is not the first time that the comet, also known as Comet Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova, will pass by Earth, though. As a short-period comet, it visits our planet every 5.25 years.
Comets As Symbol Of Bad Luck
Skywatchers may enjoy the sight of comets in the sky, but these celestial objects were historically viewed as harbingers of destruction. In ancient times, their presence were considered messages sent by the gods.
"The most ancient known mythology, the Babylonian "Epic of Gilgamesh," described fire, brimstone, and flood with the arrival of a comet, and Emperor Nero of Rome saved himself from the "curse of the comet" by having all possible successors to his throne executed," Charles Choi of Space.com wrote.
Superstitions particularly abound for Halley's comet, another short-period comet that appears on Earth every 75 to 76 years. The comet, which last appeared in the Solar System's inner parts in 1986 and is expected to appear again in 2061, has been blamed for illnesses, earthquakes, and the Black Death.
With 2016 being seen as a year filled with bad luck marked by deaths of famous celebrities and other important figures including David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Fidel Castro, Prince, Carrie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds, some may take the appearance of Comet 45P on New Year's Eve as an omen of another year of doom.
2017 To Be A Good Year For Viewing Comets
Despite comet superstitions, though, scientists do not think that Comet 45P poses any threat at all. It is nowhere going to crash on our planet, as it is millions of miles away from the Earth.
Comet 45P is neither the only comet that will make an appearance beginning December. NASA astronomers said that 2017 will be a good year for spotting comets. The U.S. space agency said that people will be able to see several comets throughout the year.
In fact, those who will be too busy with the revelries of New Year's eve to take a peek of Comet 45P in the sky this Saturday evening still have chance to see the comet when it gets closer to Earth on Feb. 11. The comet will just be 7.5 million miles away from our planet at this time, and people can see it even without using binoculars.
"Beginning in December and through most of 2017 we will have several binocular and telescopic comets to view," NASA said.