An image of comet Nishoimura. NASA/Dan Bartlett).

Comet Nishimura: Will It Be a Naked Eye Spectacle?

The Buzz Around September's Celestial Highlight


Discovered by Hideo Nishimura of Kakegawa City, Japan on Aug. 12, the comet’s emergence is truly special. In an era dominated by robotic sky scans primarily seeking asteroids, such a discovery by an individual is rare. These robotic systems—like ATLAS, PanSTARRS, and ZTF—efficiently spot comets when they’re distant and dim.

Nishimura, however, utilized a 200-mm f/3 telephoto lens paired with a Canon 20.2-megapixel camera. His accomplishment is laudable, spotting a comet crossing Earth’s trajectory even before automated systems did. Now dubbed C/2023 P1 (Nishimura), this marks Nishimura’s third comet find.

Tracing Its Path

When first spotted, Comet Nishimura gleamed at magnitude +10.4 in the Gemini constellation—far from naked-eye visibility. Yet, computations show it’s fast approaching both Earth and sun. By Sept. 12, it’ll be 77.9 million miles from Earth, getting closest to the sun five days later at 20.92 million miles.

This rapid movement suggests a fast-brightening comet. From its discovery till Aug. 23, it’s already surged 10-fold in brightness. Predictions suggest it might match the North Star’s luminance by Sept. 17.


Despite its increasing brilliance, observing it post the initial September week might be challenging.

For eager stargazers, early mornings—about 1.5 to 2 hours before sunrise—are ideal. Rely on binoculars or telescopes, seek dark skies, and chart its trajectory through constellations. Importantly, ensure a clear view of the east-northeast horizon.

Spotting The Comet

On Aug. 27, use Gemini’s twin stars, Pollux and Castor, as reference. Tracing an imaginary line between them and extending downward should lead you to the comet. From Aug. 26 to Sept. 4, it moves through Cancer the Crab, and post-Sept. 5, it’ll meander atop the “The Sickle” of Leo the Lion.


Its brightness might peak to naked-eye visibility by Sept. 5. But as it nears the sun, its position in the sky drops. By Sept. 9, it’ll hover just 10 degrees above the horizon. By Sept. 12, its luminance, although potentially third magnitude, combined with the dawning sky might render it almost invisible—likely marking our last chance to witness its brilliance.

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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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