TODAY |

Once-in-a-lifetime: Lovejoy comet blares into NZ sky

Point your binoculars towards the sky tonight and you may be lucky enough to spot a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon.

Comet Lovejoy

Comet Lovejoy, discovered by Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy last August, is zooming north about 70 million kilometres from Earth.

Lovejoy is currently so bright that it can be spotted with the naked eye and more easily with binoculars and telescopes over the next few days.

It glows a striking green colour with a tail of 'space dust' - evaporating ice reflected in the sun's rays. It is not expected to be back in our skies for several thousand years.

Auckland Stardome Observatory's Dr Grant Christie says the comet will become more visible once the full moon wanes.

He says it will be harder to see with the full moon tonight and much more visible later in the week.

Lovejoy, made mostly of ice, is about five kilometres in diameter.