SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Ditch your computer, grab some binoculars and go outside. The Catalina Comet is here. Besides being awesome to look at, just the mere act of looking for it could do wonders for your health.
Comet C/2013 US 10, aka Catalina has been on approach to Earth and the inner solar system since mid-November. This celestial happening was hard to see at first, but it's getting brighter and brighter and will be fairly easy to spot in the predawn sky during the first week of December. According to EarthSky, on December 7 you may even be able to see Catalina with the naked eye.
Now, here's why it's healthy. According to researchers at UC Berkeley, the feeling of awe you get when you look up and search the starry sky actually benefits your immune system. Apparently, awe lowers pro-inflammatory cytokines, a protein that in overabundance is associated with heart disease, Alzheimer's, arthritis and other autoimmune conditions.
To get your dose of awe from the Catalina Comet, get as far away from city lights as possible, and look east just before the sun rises. You'll need binoculars, and if you have a small telescope you may get a glimpse of the comet's two tails.
According to Astronomy Magazine, "the comet lies in the eastern part of Virgo the Maiden and should show up through binoculars under a reasonably dark sky."
Catalina will eventually move into the heavens and become just another light in the starry sky. There won't be another visible comet like it until 2018. That's when Comet 46P/Wirtanen arrives.
It is well worth noting if searching the night sky for these comets doesn't do it for you, awe can be experienced in many other ways. UC Berkeley researcher Dacher Keltner says "a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art — has a direct influence upon health and life expectancy."
CBSSF.com writer, producer Jan Mabry is also executive producer and host of The Bronze Report. She lives in Northern California. Follow her on Twitter @janmabr.
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