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Published on Thursday, March 7, 2013

Now boarding: Flight to view a comet



When the comet Pan-STARRS takes a rare flight from the Oort cloud to within 100 million miles of Earth, 88 lucky customers of a German travel agency will fly up into the sky to meet it.


Passengers on Air Berlin flight 1000 will get to spend two hours closer to the comet than anyone else on Earth.


They will pay an average ticket price of about $500 for the privilege.


Eclipse Travel of Bonn, Germany, is partnering with charter agency Air Partner and Air Berlin to organize the March 16 trip-of-a-lifetime.


Just 88 of the 144 seats on the Boeing 737-700 will be occupied, so everyone can see out the window and no one has to sit in a middle seat.


Even from Earth, "most experts expect Pan-STARRS to become a naked-eye object about as bright as the stars of the Big Dipper," NASA.com says.


"Unaltered by warmth and sunlight, distant comets of the Oort cloud are like time capsules, harboring frozen gases and primitive, dusty material drawn from the original solar nebula 4.5 billion years ago."


By Cheryl Rosen

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