Astronomers and amateurs are already catching on Kitewhich will soon reach its closest point to Earth.
wonderful Green kiteand his official name C/2022 E3 (ZTF)At most, with the naked eye recent reports. Until a few days ago, the space object was captured only with telescopes and binoculars; However, the closer it is to Earth, the brighter it is significantly increased.
It will be visible both in the Northern Hemisphere (Mexico, Spain, Venezuela, Colombia, etc.), as well as in Ecuador and the Southern Hemisphere (Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, etc.). Undoubtedly, it is one of the astronomical events The most important year is 2023.
NASA said in the journal Comet ZTF no longer requires a telescope to view Photo description With a long exposure taken on January 19, the object is observed as a green star in the sky.
The Green Comet, captured from Salamanca, Spain. Photo: Oscar Martin Mesonero
A comet crosses our cosmic neighborhood For the first time in 50,000 yearsso astronomers and space enthusiasts do not want to miss the opportunity to witness its close passage.
What is a comet and why is this one green?
the Kites They are cold bodies consisting of dust, rocks and frozen gases, which circulate in the boundaries of the solar system. However, they are sometimes attracted towards the Sun. When this happens, the heat from the star slowly begins to evaporate, so a cloud called a coma and tail forms around it.
The color of its glow depends on the gases contained in the ice body. In the case of comet ZTF, its green glow is caused by its presence diatomic carbon It absorbs ultraviolet rays from the sun.
In this composition, you can see how the green comet increased in brightness from December 30, 2022, to January 24, 2023. Image: Twitter/Brennan Gilmore
What do we know about comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF)?
The comet was named C/2022 E3 (ZTF) because it was discovered in March last year, using a telescope from the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) astronomical project, in California, USA. At the time, it was transiting the orbiting planet Jupiter.
Analysis of its trajectory indicates that it comes from the Oort Cloud, a layer surrounding the Solar Systemconsisting mainly of these icy bodies and located at a distance too far to be reached by Voyager ships Only in 300 years.
The extremely elongated orbit is the reason why it returns next 50,000 years And perhaps after such a “visit” you will be forever lost in interstellar space.
Comet C/2022 E3 at its closest approach to Earth. Photo: Skylive
How bright will it be? How do we capture it?
Since it was discovered, the brightness of this green comet has increased dramatically, so much so that astronomers have estimated that, on these dates, it could be visible without the aid of instruments. So far, these predictions have not been wrong.
After its closest approach to the Sun, on January 12, the comet continued to “flare” and come close to Earth. The closest step to our planet (perihelion) will occur Feb 2, when it is located at 42 million km. Therefore, the weeks around that date are expected to offer us the best insight.
However, it can only be captured in a dark sky. This is clear, without light pollution or moonlight. The comet will appear as a dotted spot in the sky. Less experienced observers may need to use binoculars.
When does the green comet appear? What time to monitor?
Comet ZTF is visible from now until mid-February. There will be two different periods to watch.
- From January 20 to 31, in the northern hemisphere and tropical latitudes. From 4:00 a.m. to 5.30 a.m., the new moon and crescent moon will not interfere with observation in this period.
- From 1 to 10 FebruaryAnd In the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere. From 45 minutes after sunset to three hours later. The full moon will make it difficult to spot for the first few days, however, From February 6thThe satellite will appear later and later, so that time can be used.
Where do you look to find the comet?
- in january (morning period): Look north to the left of the constellation Hercules. In the following days, it will pass through the constellations Draco and Ursa Minor.
Comet spotted in the northern hemisphere before dawn. Photo: Royal Astronomical Observatory of Madrid
- in feb (evening period): looking towards north. At first it will appear near the horizon, to the right of the constellation of the Giraffe (Camelopardalis). In the following days, it will rise to the constellation Auriga and higher.
Comet observed from the Southern Hemisphere (as of February). Photo: Stellarium
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