Originally posted on National Post | News:

A recently discovered comet is closer than it’s ever been to Earth, and stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere finally get to see it.

Called Pan-STARRS, the comet passed within 170 million kilometres of Earth on Tuesday, its closest approach in its first-ever cruise through the inner solar system. The ice ball will get even nearer the sun this weekend — just 45 million kilometres from the sun and within the orbit of Mercury.

The comet has been visible for weeks from the Southern Hemisphere. Now the top half of the world gets a glimpse as well.

California astronomer Tony Phillips said the comet’s proximity to the moon will make it easier for novice sky watchers to find it. Binoculars likely will be needed for the best viewing, he said, warning onlookers to avoid pointing them at the setting sun.

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“Wait until the sun is fully below the horizon…

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