Comet Iwamoto (C/2018 Y1) is approaching us. On February 12 and 13, the dirty snowball will make a rare visit to the inner solar system, passing by our planet only 0.3 AU (45 million kilometers) away. Here it is, approaching Earth from the constellation Virgo:
Amateur astronomer Michael Jäger made a 41-minute video at his private observatory in Austria. At the time, Comet Iwamoto was crossing the celestial equator, so the video contains many streaks from geostationary satellites.
Discovered in December 2018 by Japanese amateur astronomer Masayuki Iwamoto, this comet is a visitor from beyond the Kuiper belt. It is more than 5 times as far from the Sun as Pluto.
Comet Iwamoto doesn’t visit us very often. Its last passage through the inner solar system was about 648 AD, and the next won’t happen until 3390 AD. So, if you want to see the comet, now is the time to look.