Comet Lovejoy is visible near Earth's horizon behind airglow in this nighttime image photographed by NASA astronaut Dan Burbank, Expedition 30 commander, onboard the International Space Station on Dec. 22, 2011. credit: NASA

Comet Lovejoy is visible near Earth’s horizon behind airglow in this nighttime image photographed by NASA astronaut Dan Burbank, Expedition 30 commander, onboard the International Space Station on Dec. 22, 2011. credit: NASA

DETROIT (WWJ) – If the weather cooperates, metro Detroiter sky-gazers will enjoy a dazzling appearance by Comet Lovejoy this week.

That’s according to Mike Narlock, head of astronomy at Cranbrook Institute of Science, who says it’s typically best seen in the south, but you can also enjoy Lovejoy here in Michigan.

“This particular one is a bit of a surprise,” he told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Jayne Bower. “It’s been quite a treat for those in the Southern Hemisphere, but recently it’s creeped into the Northern Hemisphere, and it will reach its closest point to plant Earth in just a couple of days.”

Tuesday night may be the best time to see the comet, Narlock said.

And as long as Michigan’s often cloudy sky doesn’t too much hamper the view, “You might be able to pick it up with just your eyes alone — you won’t even need a telescope…It’ll look like a smudge in the sky, but certainly with binoculars or a telescope you’ll be treated to a bit more of an impressive views.”

So, what exactly are comets? Narlock they’re a bit like giant dirty snowballs which comes from outside of Neptune’s orbit.

“They are loosely held together, and when they come in close to the sun the sun heats them up and the solar wind blows that material away from the comet, and that creates that beautiful tail that you see,” he said.

Asteroids, on the other hand, are more metallic in nature and don’t produce the glowing tail, Narlock explained.

Comet Lovejoy was discovered by Australian amateur astronomer, Terry Lovejoy.

[Read more about it HERE].

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