A historic event will be seen from Earth this week as two comets are expected to fly into the planet’s orbit. On Monday, a green-like comet will soar Earth’s skies followed by another one passing even closer to the planet’s orbit one day later.

Both of the comets will swing over closer to Earth’s orbit than any other comet for the past 250 years, according to a publishing in USA Today. Sky watchers are in for a treat as the historic sight of the cosmic event will not only be a pleasant sight to enjoy but also both comets will zoom by Earth making it a rather peculiar occasion.

At the closest approach distance of 3.5 million km, the faint BA14 is the closest comet known to flyby Earth in over 200 years. Comet LINEAR is only slightly farther away at 5 million km (Michael Kelley). Photo: National Geographic

The comets named 252P/Linear and P/2016 BA14 are expected this upcoming week and will provide scientists with a never-seen-before event. The comets were discovered early this year by the University of Hawaii’s PanSTARRS telescope located on Haleakala on the Maui Island.

Although astronomers first taught that the discovery involved asteroids, further observations by a team at the University of Maryland and Lowell Observatory showed a faint tail. Faint tails are usual in comets, which made astronomers conclude that the discovery was, in fact, a comet, instead of an asteroid.

The comet 252P/Linear is expected to fly into Earth’s orbit on Monday, at 8:14 a.m. Eastern Time (ET), and will zoom in by Earth within 2 or 3 million miles of our planet’s orbit. And the comet P/2016 BA14 will pass considerably closer than the first one as it will be seen within 2.1 miles from the planet’s orbit at 10:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday.

A rather peculiar spectacle

These comets would be the fifth and third-nearest comets to fly by Earth since 1770 according to a report published by NASA. Amazingly enough, not only the comets will be the closest to Earth’s orbit in over 250 years, but also comes in two separate comets.

This gives astronomers enough reasons to believe that both comets could be the product of a singular comet that broke into two pieces, as both comets’ trajectory is quite similar.

“We know comets are relatively fragile things, said Paul Chodas, manager at the NASA Center for Near Earth Objects in a press release. “During a previous pass through the inner solar system, or during a distant flyby of Jupiter, a chunk that we now know as BA14 might have broken off of 252P.”

Source: LA Times