Deep in the Stone Age, Neanderthals still lived side by side homo sapiens, our ancestors could have been lit up in a green light in the night sky. Now that light…C/2022 E3 (ZTF) (the more familiar Green Comet)– he returned.
Comet Green’s highly elliptical orbit means it takes a long time to pass Earth again—about 50,000 years, to be exact. And if it repeats its 50,000-year migration, it might not.
Astronomers discovered the comet in March 2022 using the Samuel Oschin robotic telescope at the Zwicky Transient Facility. It passed perihelion (when it is closest to the Sun) on January 12.
Observers in the United States can see the comet now through early Februarypotential one if with the naked eye dark field of view, but your chances will be better using binoculars or a telescope. According to NASA, the best time to see the comet is in the early morning hours.
The comet will make its closest approach to our planet on February 2. Closest approach will bring it to about 0.29 AU (about 27 million miles) from Earth. According to EarthSky.
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Currently, the comet is toward the constellation Boötes and near Hercules, EarthSky reports. (If you are having trouble locating a comet, a handy interactive sky chart.) Comet its location makes it difficult for observers in the Southern Hemisphere to see. From its current location in the night sky, its projected path takes it past Ursa Minor (Ursa Minor) and through Camelopardis during closest approach.
Comets shine due to a combination of their chemical composition and sunlight. Comets passing near the Sun are illuminated and heated by its energy, which causes molecules on their surface to vaporize and fluoresce. Comet heads glow green when they contain cyanogen or diatomic carbon. According to NASA.
The Green Comet can be as bright as magnitude 5 when it is closest to Earth. According to EarthSky. The lower the number, the brighter the object. Full Moon apparent magnitude about -11, and the faintest objects seen by the Hubble Space Telescope are about magnitude 30, According to Brittanica. The darkest stars visible to the naked eye are about magnitude 6.
Although the comet may reach magnitude 5, it will If you’re having trouble finding an object, it’s probably helpful to use a pair of binoculars or a telescope. on a clear night.
The incoming space rock isn’t the only green comet of late; Comet 46P/Wirtanen in 2018 It was bright enough for observers to see with the naked eye and in 2021Leonard’s Comet glowed green as it followed the cosmic trajectory of the ice ball.
So keep your eyes peeled for clear nights to come. If you see something with a faint green glow, it’s probably our newest space visitor.
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