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Just for one night! Meet C/2022 E3 (her friends call her the green comet for short).
Who is she? A possibly unprecedented celestial event. So trade in your typical evening blue light for some green light. It’s a connection to history and the galaxy that won’t try to sell you anything.
- C/2022 E3 is a comet characterized by its light green core and long faint ion tail.
- It was discovered in March 2022 and was visible with the telescope. But tonight, the comet is poised to be best visible to the unaided eye in the northern hemisphere as it passes.
- This could be the first time (or at least in thousands of years) that the comet has crossed Earth. And you can watch!
Here is my first attempt to capture the “Green Comet”, Comet c/2022 E3 (ZTF). This was particularly challenging due to the 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
What’s the big deal? We know very little about C/2022 E3, but it appears its long orbit is taking it away from the outer reaches of the solar system then toward the Sun, according to The Planetary Society.
- It was discovered at the Zwicky Transient Facility on Palomar Mountain in California by astronomers Bryce Bolin and Frank Masci.
- Tonight we can see it from just 26.4 million miles away. This is the next point it will come to earth on its journey.
- This comet hasn’t been this close since the Paleolithic. You will see the same colors in the sky as some long gone but never forgotten little geeks like this guy.
What are people saying?
“If C/2022 E3 had ever passed through the solar system before, it would have last been seen in the sky more than 10,000 years ago.”
— Jon Giorgini, Senior Analyst at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said NPR
“You can find the comet by looking south of the Big Dipper near the constellation Camelopardalis. If you find the North Star, you can track it directly south of it.”
— Bryce Bolin, one of the astronomers who discovered the comet, told the The Washington Post
so what now? Your best chance to see the comet is between Wednesday and Thursday, February 2nd. 1-2 The glow is most visible in the night sky, but that may vary depending on cloud cover in your area.
- Viewers in the northern hemisphere can see the comet’s faint glow in the morning sky, according to NASA. In the following days it could be the southern hemisphere’s turn.
- The comet could gain enough energy to be ejected from our solar system, or it could remain locked to its elliptical orbit for another trip around the sun, Giorgini says.
- You can bask in the hazy green glow and enjoy the comfort even if you don’t file your taxes on timethe green comet will be floating out there for many years to come.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
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