According to NASA, Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova will pass close to Earth in February 2017.
Discovered in 1948, 45P is a short-period comet, with an orbit that takes it around the Sun and out by Jupiter about every 5-1/4 years.
This month encounter will be the comet’s closest with Earth, passing by at a distance of about 12.4 million kilometres, through the end of this century.
The comet will pass by our planet again in 2032 but will be much farther away — at a distance of nearly about 48 million kilometres.
Scientists have taken advantage of 45P’s approach, making observations using powerful ground-based telescopes such as NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility to investigate the gases, dust and ice particles that are released from the comet nucleus and show up in the coma and tail.
Ground-based observations also are planned for comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak, which will pass closest to Earth on April 1, and for comet 46P/Wirtanen, passing closest to Earth on December 16, 2018.