- Patrick Hughes
- BBC News Climate & Science
A newly discovered comet will make its closest approach to our planet on Wednesday and will be visible from the Northern Hemisphere.
Astronomers estimate that the object’s journey to Earth took about 50,000 years.
Pictures taken by scientists A Distinctive green colour around the comet’s body.
But those who hope to see a bright emerald streak in the sky will be disappointed. Its brilliance is on the threshold of what is visible to the human eye..
“You may have read these reports that we’re going to get this bright green object lighting up the sky,” says Dr Robert Massey, deputy chief executive of Britain’s Royal Astronomical Society.
Unfortunately, that won’t be the case or anything close to it.
However, away from light pollution and under dark skies, you may be able to see Misty cloud in the skyIf you know where to look.
The brightness of comets is known to be unpredictable, but by February 2 they could be visible to the naked eye in the dark night sky.”
Some binoculars suffice
Potential observers will have a better chance of spotting it with binoculars, which will be seen as a faint white spot.
“A small pair of binoculars will help find it,” Massey says.
Comets are mostly made of ice and dust. As they approach the sun, the ice evaporates and the dust is freed, forming a distinctive long tail.
“If you’re lucky, you’ll see a tip of a tail sticking out, so it will look like a classic comet,” Massey added.
Astronomers discovered the comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) Last March at Palomar Observatory in California, USA.
It has been visible for the past few weeks in the northern hemisphere with binoculars.
But it will make its closest approach to Earth approx 41 million km This wed.
The object originated in the Oort Cloud, a group of icy bodies that lie at the edge of the solar system.
Look for the North Star
To find it, Dr. Massey first suggests looking for the North Star, which is always in the same place in the sky.
Polaris can be identified by looking directly to the north and locating one star in the sky.
You can use it online Free software To determine where the comet moved relative to the North Star on the night you are searching.
The best time to see it in the Northern Hemisphere will be in the early hours of Thursday morning, when the moon sets.
At those times, the comet should only appear to the right of the pole star.
The green appearance of comets is not uncommon and is often due to the decay of a reactive molecule called decarbonTwo carbon atoms joined by a double bond.
This green can be captured better with digital cameras that are more sensitive to colour.
The comet will not match the sight of comet 2020 NEOWISE, the brightest comet visible from the Northern Hemisphere since 1997.
But the Planetary Society confirms this “An opportunity of a lifetime to see it”.
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