If you missed the Iras-Araki-Alcock comet last night when it paid a passing visit to the Earth--at approximately 3.1 million miles--astronomers say the glowing ball should be visible again just after dark tonight.

Randolph Clarke, an astronomer at the Naval Observatory here, said the comet, which was supposed to be at its brightest and closest last night, really didn't appear much brighter than it had Monday night when it was 3.5 million miles away.

That's about the same distance the comet should be from the Earth tonight, he said.

"It rather surprising," Clarke noted about the most recently discovered comet's appearance last night.

"I expected it to be much brighter." But then he recalled Kohoutek, the comet astronomers predicted would be 50 times brighter than Halley's comet when it passed within 75 million miles of the Earth in January 1974. That brilliance fizzled in a 3 million-mile wide cloud of hydrogen.

Iras-Araki-Alcock should be visible tonight to the naked eye--and certainly through binoculars--until after midnight, Clarke said. It should be in the northern sky between the cup of the Little Dipper and the Big Dipper in the constellation Cancer. Newest Comet Will Glow Again Tonight

If you missed the Iras-Araki-Alcock comet last night when it paid a passing visit to the Earth--at approximately 3.1 million miles--astronomers say the glowing ball should be visible again just after dark tonight.

Randolph Clarke, an astronomer at the Naval Observatory here, said the comet, which was supposed to be at its brightest and closest last night, really didn't appear much brighter than it had Monday night when it was 3.5 million miles away.

That's about the same distance the comet should be from the Earth tonight, he said.

"It rather surprising," Clarke noted about the most recently discovered comet's appearance last night.

"I expected it to be much brighter." But then he recalled Kohoutek, the comet astronomers predicted would be 50 times brighter than Halley's comet when it passed within 75 million miles of the Earth in January 1974. That brilliance fizzled in a 3 million-mile wide cloud of hydrogen.

Iras-Araki-Alcock should be visible tonight to the naked eye--and certainly through binoculars--until after midnight, Clarke said. It should be in the northern sky between the cup of the Little Dipper and the Big Dipper in the constellation Cancer.