Sign up for CNN’s Wonder Theory science newsletter. Explore the universe with news about fascinating discoveries, scientific advances and more.
A recently discovered green comet will soon pass Earth for the first time in 50,000 years. It was last seen in the night sky in the Stone Age.
The comet was discovered by astronomers using the wide-field survey camera at the Zwicky Transient Facility at the Palomar Observatory in San Diego County, California on March 2, 2022 and reportedly made its closest approach to the Sun on January 12 OUR.
Called C/2022 E3 (ZTF)The comet has an orbit around the sun that cuts through the outer reaches of the solar system, which is why it took such a long distance — and a long time — to swing back past Earth, the researchers said The Planetary Society.
Video: Meteor, Meteorite, Asteroid, Comet: What’s the Difference?
The icy celestial object will make its next flyby of Earth between February 1 and 2, according to estimates of about 26 million miles to 27 million miles (42 million kilometers to 44 million kilometers). earth sky.
Even at its closest approach, the comet will still be more than 100 times the Moon’s distance from Earth, according to EarthSky.
As the comet approaches Earth, observers can spot it as a faint green speck near bright star Polaris, also known as the North Star. Comets reflect different colors of light based on their current position in orbit and their chemical composition.
Early morning skies, once the moon has set past midnight for those in the northern hemisphere, are prime for seeing the comet. The space object will be more difficult to see for those in the southern hemisphere.
Depending on its brightness, C/2022 E3 (ZTF) may even be visible to the naked eye in dark skies, but the comet is easier to spot with binoculars or a telescope.
The comet can be distinguished from stars by its streaky tails of dust and energetic particles, and the glowing green coma that surrounds it.
The coma is a shell that forms around a comet as it passes close to the Sun, causing its ice to sublimate, or turn directly into gas. This causes the comet to look blurry when viewed through telescopes.
After passing the earth, the comet sets off closest approach of Mars on February 10thaccording to EarthSky.
When clouds or bad weather get in the way of observing the sky, The Virtual Telescope Project will share a live stream of the comet in the sky over Rome. And don’t miss the other celestial events to see in 2023.
Video: Meteor showers bring “astronomy to us”
Leave a Comment