Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is close to paying us a visit and starting this weekend we will have the best conditions to be able to glimpse this unique event in generations in the sky. The first images of the comet show a colorful coma that has generated interest in itself.
When can we see it?
A comet that only approaches Earth every 50,000 years is quite an astronomical event, but if this were not enough, the first images captured by astronomers reveal a remarkably colorful comet. C/2022 E3 (ZTF) already crossed its perihelion (the point closest to the sun in its orbit) on January 12 and is now on its way to its closest approach to us.
The moment of closest approach between Earth and the comet will occur between February 1 and 2, but the object is already at a relatively close distance from our planet. Because the new moon will occur on the 21st, the best days for its sighting will be between the 21st and the 2nd.
The early hours of the day will be the best to see this space phenomenon. Now we can only hope that the weather is with us, giving us clear mornings (although at least this weekend they will be cold).
from the southern hemisphere. The northern hemisphere will have a better view of this comet, but it will also be possible to observe it from the south. To see the comet from the southern hemisphere it will be advisable to wait a few more days. Those who are in these parts will have a better view of the comet in the days of its closest approach to Earth already at the beginning of the month of February.
Here’s my first effort at capturing the “Green Comet”, Comet c/2022 E3 (ZTF). This was a particular challenge due to humid conditions and clouds, but I’m thrilled I was able to capture it at all! pic.twitter.com/t2VGEnfKX8
— Andrew McCarthy (@AJamesMcCarthy) January 19, 2023
The green kite and the giraffe.
The comet will be visible to the northwest. To find it, we can first look for the constellation of Camelopardalis, the giraffe, since the comet will remain in its vicinity these days. What we should look for is a conventional comet, although the first images give its tail a green and yellow appearance that has led some to refer to it as the “green comet”.
The comet’s tail is nothing more than ice and dust that breaks away from the main body and orbits at slightly different speeds than the main body. Its exact composition is what causes the color to vary slightly, although C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is not the only comet that has recently surprised us with its green tones.
Glimpsing it could be a simple task since, if the forecasts are met, it can be observed with the naked eye. Even so, equipping ourselves with binoculars or a small telescope will allow us to better appreciate this unique phenomenon in millennia. As it could not be less, the phenomenon can also be observed from the Internet, through platforms such as The Virtual Telescope Project.
See ‘3 days in the life’ of gorgeous green comet as it heads towards Earth (photo) https://t.co/l0zgODDGX0 pic.twitter.com/abOY9jGAEs
— SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) January 19, 2023
A new “discovery”.
The first sighting of the comet (if we exclude its passage in prehistoric times) occurred in March of last year, when it was approaching the interior of the solar system, once it had crossed the orbit of Jupiter, some 640 million kilometers from us.
The discovery was made by researchers at the Zwicky Transient Facility (the ZTF in the comet’s name refers to this fact). At first glance, astronomers thought it was an asteroid, and it wasn’t until they took a closer look that they discovered the tail of this comet.
First step in 50 millennia.
When analyzing its orbit to determine its trajectory and origin, the researchers came across an orbit that took it to the interior of the solar system with millennial periodicity. So much so that the last time it could be seen from Earth was 50,000 years ago. A time when Neanderthals still cohabited our planet with us sapiens.
And it’s unlikely we’ll hear from this comet again for another handful of millennia (if ever), so this week and next will be our big chance to appreciate this “green comet,” or C/ 2022 E3 (ZTF).
Image | Comet NEOWISE, also in green tones. ganapathy kumar
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