After 50,000 Years, the Green Comet Is Ready to Pass by Earth Again

A comet will rush toward Earth after 50,000 years. According to NASA, the dirty snowball-shaped comet last crossed Earth in Neanderthal times.

The comet will approach Earth on February 1, before speeding back and not likely to return for millions of years to come.

So contrary to the title of the killer comet film: “Don’t Look Up” (“Don’t Look Up”), now with the coming of the green comet it is precisely: look up!

Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich in London, Jake Foster, said “this comet will be relatively close.” He added, “But when this comet came, it was still about 42 million kilometers from us. Sometimes the planet Venus can be closer to us than this coming comet. So obviously this is harmless. But close enough that we can get a pretty good view.”

This comet was discovered last March 2022 by astronomers using a kind of wide camera called the “Zwicky Transient Facility” at Caltech’s Palomar Observatory. This explains the complexity of the comet’s name, which is “Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF.”

Using binoculars and a small telescope, the harmless green comet was visible in the northern sky. Those living in the Northern Hemisphere may be able to see it with the naked eye.

As this green comet approaches, the weather is expected to be clear. The comet is best seen in the early hours of Wednesday.

On February 10, the comet will be near the southeastern corner of Mars, a nice (easy to spot) landmark.

Skywatchers in the Southern Hemisphere will have to wait until March to see a glimpse of this comet. But for those in the Northern Hemisphere, February 1st is the best time to see it.

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“The comet will appear as a very dim, hazy patch in the sky. The comet will appear and brighten where we can see it heading north, passing close enough at the North Pole and then making a circular, swift dive into the Southern Hemisphere. This comet is too faint to see with the naked eye. So one has to try to find it with binoculars or a small telescope,” said Catherine Pilachowski, an astronomer at Indiana University. This comet will be easily seen because of its green trail.

Scientists believe that, with current orbit calculations, the comet last crossed the solar system 50,000 years ago.

“This comet came from very far away in the solar system, more than 2,000 times farther from the sun to Earth,” said Pilachowski.

On February 1, the comet will slide between Earth’s orbit and Mars at a relative speed of 207,000 kilometers per hour.

The comet is not expected to be as bright as other comets, such as Neowise in 2020 or Hale-Bopp and Hyakutake in the mid-late 1990s. [em/lt]

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