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Catalina comes calling over north Norfolk - for the first and last time

PUBLISHED: 10:29 09 January 2016 | UPDATED: 15:14 11 January 2016

Comet Catalina, which will be visible over north Norfolk this week. Picture: Gerald Rhemann.

Comet Catalina, which will be visible over north Norfolk this week. Picture: Gerald Rhemann.

Archant

The comet could be observed with the naked eye across the region tonight - clear skies permitting - making its final orbit of the sun before it disappears forever.

At around midnight, the blue light will travel across the sky and can be seen at a similar time for the next few days. Moving closer and closer, it will be nearest the earth on Sunday, January 17.

After that date, astronomers believe it will be available to see through binoculars for around a month, but its unpredictable nature could see it depart earlier.

Comets are known for their dust tails, Catalina’s measures more than 83 million miles in length.

Unusually it also has an ion tail which causes its distinctive blue colouring.

Lawrence Harris, astronomer, said: “It is a one off approach to the sun for the comet, it probably got to close to a star or astroid and it was given such a kick it will go once around the sun and then disappear from the solar system forever.”

Some of the best places in the region to see the comet at night time will be in open fields and unlit areas - although as the comet moves closer to earth it will also be visible during the day.

Discovered two years ago by a team of American astronomers, its full name is Comet2013US10.

- If you have any images of the comet, email them to jemma.walker@archant.co.uk.


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