Science

Green comet is approaching Earth for the first time since the Stone Age and can be seen with the naked eye

Green comet is approaching Earth for the first time since the Stone Age and can be seen with the naked eye
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Austin, Texas (KXAN) – This month, skygazers are treated to a once-in-a-lifetime sight in civilization: a green comet called C/2022 E3 (ZTF) approaching Earth.

The comet, which last passed our solar system just over 50,000 years ago, will reach perihelion (or its closest point to the sun) on January 1st. 12 when it will be within 100 million miles of the sun, according to NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

On February 2, 2, the comet will be only about 42 million kilometers from Earth. This is the closest time since the Upper Palaeolithic, an epoch of human history when Homo sapiens are thought to have left Africa and settled in Asia and Europe.

To put it in perspective, Neanderthals were still walking the earth when the comet last passed.

What will Comet E3 look like?

According to NASA, it is difficult to predict the brightness of a comet. NASA said if it continues to get brighter, it should be visible to the naked eye. It will also be light green.

This graphic released by NASA shows the path that the “Green Comet” will take through the solar system. (OUR)

NASA said the comet will be visible toward the northwest in the northern hemisphere in the morning. In February it will move below the horizon and become visible in the southern hemisphere.

Spectators may be able to see the comet with the naked eye, but binoculars or a telescope are your best bets.

How Was Comet E3 Discovered?

Discovered by astronomers Bryce Bolin and Frank Masci at the Zwicky Transient Facility in March 2022, Comet E3 was first sighted near Jupiter. According to Space.com, it was initially believed to be an asteroid.

The closer it got to the sun, the brighter it got. Comets do this because the sun’s heat causes frozen dust and gas to be released from beneath the surface. Sunlight reflects off these gases, giving them the appearance of tails.

The comet was named after its discovery location (ZTF) and the year of its discovery (2022). Because it was discovered in the first half of March, or the fifth “half month” of the year, it was given the designation E, the fifth letter of the alphabet. After all, it was the third object discovered in that half month, hence “E3”.

What were humans doing the last time C/2022 E3 passed?

According to data from NASA’s JPL, 18,930,412 days have passed since the comet last left its orbit. Back then, Homo erectus, the ancestor of Homo sapiens, and the Neanderthals used stone tools.

Some settlements were thought to have existed in valleys. The first bladed weapons were invented, as were the fishing hook and the rope.

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