Astronomers recently spotted a green comet approaching Earth for the first time in 50,000 years.
Here’s when, where, and how you can see Comet ZTF as it passes Earth in late January and early February.
It is around January 30 near Polaris, the bright North Star at the tip of the Big Dipper.
We may be the last humans to see a green comet pass by Earth. outer edge of the solar system late January and early February.
C/2022 E3 (ZTF), or Comet ZTF for short — the name astronomers gave this cosmic snowball after its discovery in March by the Zwicky Transient Facility — has been our cosmic neighbor since the last Ice Age. does not exist.
researcher calculated Iceballs of gas, dust, and rock orbiting the Sun on a cycle of about 50,000 years suggest that Neanderthals were still walking the Earth and that humans first migrated out of Africa during the comet’s last pass. means that you have just
Without telescopes and binoculars, those ancient peoples might not have discovered the comet at all. And you may never see it again.
“Some predictions suggest that the comet’s orbit is so eccentric that it is no longer in orbit,” said Greenwich Observatory astronomer Jessica Lee. Newsweek.
So searching for the ZTF comet and being one of the few who have seen it up close may be worth the effort. Here’s what you need to know to maximize your chances.
When to see the green comet
In the northern hemisphere, the green comet should be visible before dawn in late January. NASAAmateur astronomers have already started Shoot the green comet to show what you can see.
The fully shaded new moon provided ideal dark skies for spying the comet on January 21st.
If you miss it, the best last chance to see the comet in the northern hemisphere is on and about Monday, January 30, when the ZTF is between the end of the Big Dipper and the North Star of the North Star.
After that, the comet will be visible in the Southern Hemisphere in early February.
Comet ZTF will pass about 26 million miles (closest distance) from Earth on February 2nd. Although this is nearly 109 times the average distance of the Moon, the comet burns so brightly that it can be seen in the night sky.
The comet is expected to be at its brightest on January 31 and February 1, but the moon is bright and the comet is “the faintest object you can see without optical aid in a very clear, very dark sky.” will be Adler Planetarium.
If you’re looking to find it, it’s important to set yourself up for success.
How to spot a green comet
At first, you may need a telescope to spot the ZTF comet, but as it gets closer to Earth, you may be able to see it with binoculars or even the naked eye.
“Comets are notoriously difficult to predict, but if current brightness trends continue, they could be easily spotted with binoculars and visible to the naked eye under dark skies.” NASA wrote in an update. December 29th.
For the best views, choose a cloudless night, far away from the city lights, darkest possible skyThe sky gets darker when the moon is dim, or at least when the moon is below the horizon.
If you’re near an urban area, it’s a good idea to bring binoculars or a telescope in case the light obscures the comet from the naked eye.
Where to see Comet ZTF in the night sky
Look to the right star to see the green comet.according to EarthSky.orgthe comet passes below Polaris — Polaris at the tip of the Big Dipper — Seen close to the star on January 30th. It appears earlier in the evening as it approaches the North Star.
said Thomas Prince, Director of the WM Keck Space Institute at Caltech. FOX Weather.
According to Prince, in the Southern Hemisphere, the comet will be about 1.5 degrees from Mars on February 10th. It’s about the width of your little finger when held at arm’s length. If you can spot Mars shining brightly in the sky, look around it and look for comets.
Published by EarthSky map It helps you find the reference objects of Hercules, Polaris, and Mars in the night sky.
Why comets are green
According to NASA, the comet has a “greenish coma, a short broad dust tail, and a long, faint ion tail.”
Many comets glow green.lab research have I connected this aura A reactive molecule called dicarbon, it emits green light when sunlight is attenuated.
Dicarbons are common in comets, but usually not in comet tails.
So the haze surrounding the comet’s central ball of frozen gas, dust, and rock is glowing green with a white tail.
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