The two are "are among the closest comets to pass by Earth in recorded history" says Knight.
This discovery coincides with the expected flyby of Comet 252P/LINEAR on March 21, which will swing past our planet at a close (yet safe) distance of 3.3 million miles (approximately 14 times the Earth-moon distance).
Early next week, Earth will have one of the closet encounters ever recorded with a passing comet. Comet P/2016 BA14 (PANSTARRS) was discovered by the Pan-STARRS survey on 2016 Jan 22. It falls just short of Lexell's Comet, which missed the Earth by just 1.4 million miles, or 2.2 kilometers on July 1, 1770.
While astronomers will aim their telescopes at these comets for observation, they'll be hard for the casual observer to spot. Stargazers in the United States will probably need only binoculars to see the bigger comet in late March.
The approaches of these two comets will be the closest they come to Earth for the foreseeable future.
To find out, astronomers around the world plan to closely observe the two comets with a variety of instruments, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the Goldstone Deep Space network, to see how similar their orbits are and whether their gas clouds have the same spectral fingerprint.
On Monday, March 21, and Tuesday, March 22, we are being treated to a fairly rare event. This is why it's entirely possible that "a chunk that we now know of as BA14 might have broken off of 252P".
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Astrophotographer Gregg Ruppel captured this image of Comet P/2016 BA14 in the skies over New Mexico on March 18, 2016, using a camera and a 10-inch telescope.
Comet Kohoutek. As comets get closer to the Sun, their characteristic tails get longer. Sky watchers are in for a treat as the historic sight of the cosmic event will not only be a pleasant sight to enjoy but also both comets will zoom by Earth making it a rather peculiar occasion.
"We know comets are relatively fragile things.", said NASA Center for Near Earth Objects manager Paul Chodas. The roughly 375-foot-wide (115 meters) comet is visible only with the aid of a professional-grade telescope, NASA officials said.
Chodas assured the public that the two comets pose no threat to Earth - and they don't bring the End of Times, as a pastor "prophesized" some weeks ago.
Astronomers get excited about comets because they're believed to be leftovers from the formation of the solar system.
Even if you can't see them yourself from your location, the Virtual Telescope will be observing both worldlets, and you can watch live online tonight and tomorrow night starting at 21:00 UTC (17:00 Eastern US time).