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Comet Pan-Starrs

Swedes told to enjoy "once in a lifetime" comet

Comet Pan-STARRS photographed in New Zealand on March 2 . Photo. AFP

Astronomers say Swedes should prepare themselves for a "once in a lifetime" opportunity next week as comet Pan-STARRS passes the Northern Hemisphere.

Stargazers say Swedes could see it with the naked eye as it passes within 45 million kilometres of the sun. "It will be exciting," Dan Kiselman of the Swedish Astronomic Society told news agency TT.

    

"We will probably be able to see it with the naked eye," says Johan Warell, associate professor of astronomy.

Astronomers say it is difficult to predict how bright the comet will be as it depends on how much ice it contains.

The comet was named after the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii and will be seen here between 12 and 15 March and to spot it Swedes should go out early in the evening and look near the horizon.

Researchers believe that it has a length of approximately 5 kilometres. Astronomers in the Southern Hemisphere have already seen it.

After the meteorite struck in Russia earlier this year, many might be afraid but Jonas Warell tells TT that people should not be scared.

"You need not be afraid. It is a very large distance from the Earth. But they can be dangerous, comets have caused mass destruction when they struck the earth," says Johan Warell.

Astronomers say that Swedes should take the opportunity to see the Pan-STARRS now. For the next time it nears the earth will be in six million years time. People should look out for a bright star like ball followed by a large tail.

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