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A green comet is approaching the Earth. When will it be visible? Will Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) be visible in Poland? The green comet was last seen 50,000 years ago

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The green comet, which was last seen by the inhabitants of the Earth 50 thousand years ago, is approaching us. The object will reach perigee, the closest point to our planet, on February 1. It is possible that comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will then be visible to the naked eye. It can now be seen through telescopes and binoculars.

C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is a long-period comet that was discovered by the Zwicky Transient Facility using the 1.22-meter Samuel Oschin Telescope at the Palomar Observatory in the US. The discovery was made on March 2, 2022 by astronomers Bryce Bolin and Frank Masci. The object then had a brightness of 17.3 magnitude and was 640 million kilometers from the Sun. Initially it was assumed that it was planetoid, but later discovered its cometary nature. It is called a green comet.

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was last seen 50,000 years ago

The last time C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was visible from Earth was 50,000 years ago. It orbits the sun in a long orbit that runs through the far reaches of the solar system, which is why it took so long to get close to our planet again, experts explain. The next opportunity to see her may come in another 50,000. years.

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The comet passed through the point of its orbit closest to the Sun (the so-called perihelion) on January 12 this year. at a distance of 1.11 astronomical units (1.11 AU), or 166 million kilometers. Currently, the object is 103 million kilometers from Earth, but it will be closest to our planet on February 1, when the distance will be 42 million kilometers (0.28 AU).

comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF)Photo from December 30, 2022Adobe Stock

How to observe a green comet

C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will be visible to observers in the northern hemisphere. Currently, it can be seen in the constellation of the Northern Crown, which in the second half of the night begins to rise higher above the horizon. Over the next few days it will move, which will improve its visibility conditions (it will be visible higher in the sky a little earlier) and, for example, on February 1, it will be visible in the constellation Giraffe.

Now you need a telescope or binoculars to see it. The current observed brightness of the comet is about 7th magnitude and this is a slightly better result than predicted, which increases the chances of naked eye visibility in a dozen or so days. According to predictions, in late January and early February, the comet may reach the brightness that allows it to be seen with the naked eye, although it will rather be the limit of this visibility. The best conditions for observation should be between midnight and dawn. The observer should then look to the northwest, towards Alpha Ursae Minoris, or the North Star. From our perspective, the comet will be heading towards the constellation Ursa Minor, and the closer it gets to it, the earlier it will appear in the night sky. Remember to go to a place where artificial light will not interfere with admiring the object, it can completely obscure the faint glow of C/2022 E3 (ZTF).

On February 5 and 6, the comet will pass near the bright star Capella, on February 10 and 11 it will pass in the sky near Mars at a distance of 1.5 degrees, and from February 13 to 15 it will pass in front of the Hyades open cluster, near bright star Aldebaran.

Main photo source: Adobe Stock

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