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Rare green comet not seen for 50,000 years, visible in our skies tonight

The comet was first discovered by researchers at Palomar Observatory.

SAN DIEGO — On February 1, a rare green comet discovered right here in San Diego will be in its brightest form as it nears earth.

If you're in the city, you'll be able to see it using a telescope.

But, if you head to our local mountains or desert areas, there’s a good chance you can view it with the naked eye.

The green comet is unique because it’s shooting through our solar system for the first time in 50,000 years.

CBS 8 reported on it last month when it was close to the sun.

Now, it’s at its closest point to earth, and will be the brightest it’s ever been.

"The brightest it will be in the sky is over the course of tonight and tomorrow night," said Dr. Cameron Hummels, an astrophysicist at Cal Tech, a research institute in Pasadena.

Dr. Hummels’s colleagues were the ones who discovered the green comet in March of last year from the Palomar Observatory.

"At first, they thought it was an asteroid but then realized there was a tail behind it," said Dr. Hummels.

As for why this comet is a big deal, Dr. Hummels says aside from being
able to view something not seen since the Stone Age, comets, which are chunks of ice left over from the birth of our solar system, can tell a lot about our history.

"Comets form in the outer solar system far from the sun and we could learn a lot about the origin of our solar system and what the conditions were like early on," said Dr. Hummels.

The green hue has to do with the comet's chemical makeup.

But, it may not be as bright if you're surrounded by city lights.

If you want to see more of a green glow without a telescope, head to dark places like Julian or Borrego Springs.

“It's in the northern sky. It's changing over the course of the night but it's about 45 degrees off the horizon in the direction of the north star. It's kinda in between the big dipper and the little dipper for reference,” said Dr. Hummels.

Dr. Hummels is having a viewing party at Cal Tech.

Closer to home, Wednesday night’s viewing coincides with the Fleet Science Center's monthly planetarium show, where the green comet will be discussed at both 7:00 and 8:15 PM.

Afterward, members of the San Diego Astronomy Association will be outside with telescopes giving the public a chance to use them for free.

WATCH RELATED: Rare green comet not seen for 50,000 years, visible in our skies tonight

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