03/21/2016 – Ephemeris – Two dim comets are making close passes of the Earth
Ephemeris for Monday, March 21st. The Sun will rise at 7:43. It’ll be up for 12 hours and 14 minutes, setting at 7:57. The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 7:21 tomorrow morning.
Tomorrow Comet P/2016 BA14 (Pan-STARRS) will come it’s closest to the Earth at about 2.2 million miles (3.5 million km) or about 9 times the distance of the Moon away. It may not be a coincidence that another small comet 252P/LINEAR 12 in nearly the same orbit will be passing the Earth today at 3.3 million miles (5.3 million km). The Pan-STARRS comet will set a record as the third closest comet known to pass by the Earth. Many local folks saw the previous third closest comet, IRAS-Araki-Alcok from the Rogers Observatory back in 1983, when it passed 12.2 lunar distances from the Earth. Radio telescopes which use radar to probe both comets’ nuclei may give us a clue as to whether these two comets are chips off the same block so to speak.
Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.
Seiichi Yoshida’s Weekly Information about Bright Comets link.