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The Christmas comet orbits the sun once every 5.4 years and passes by Earth approximately every 11 years but it is rarely this close.
Look into the night sky Sunday and you just might see a bright, fuzzy ball with a greenish-gray tint. That's because a comet that orbits between Jupiter and the sun will make its closest approach to Earth in centuries.
"The fuzziness is just because it's a ball of gas basically," Tony Farnham, a research scientist in the astronomy department at the University of Maryland, said Saturday morning after a long night studying the comet at the Discovery Channel Telescope, about 40 miles southeast of Flagstaff, Arizona. "You've got a 1-kilometre solid nucleus in the middle, and gas is going out hundreds of thousands of miles."