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Crumbling Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 Approaches

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Crumbling Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 Approaches

A crumbling comet will soon pass near the Earth.

Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 is brightening and may even be visible to the unaided
eye when the
fragmented comet zooms past Earth during the middle of next month.

Still, the small comet poses no
Earth hazard, since it will pass the Earth at about 25 times the
distance of the Moon.

Exactly how bright
Comet Schwassman-Wachmann 3 will get is unknown.

It is even possible, althought unlikely, that debris from
the comet
will have spread out enough to cause a notable
meteor shower.

Pictured above,
Fragment B of
Comet Schwassman-Wachmann 3 was photographed two nights ago by a 8.2-meter
Very Large Telescope in

Visible to the lower right of the large B fragment are many mini-comets
that have broken off and now orbit the Sun separately.

Each mini-comet itself sheds gas and dust and so appears to have its own hazy coma.

The comet will pass closest to the Sun on June 7.

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