The last time it was seen from Earth, 50,000 years ago, Neanderthals were still living in Europe. It displays an attractive green and has an anti-tail. And besides, you can almost enjoy it with the naked eye. All of these features make the so-called “green comet” (there are others) a curious phenomenon that goes little beyond the world of amateur astronomers. “One is Publicity [excesivo bombo] Because everything is now, but the truth is that it is good”, Javier Armentia, astronomer and director of the Pamplona Planetarium, admitted. “Not all comets present this” anti-tail “, or rather this phenomenon that the material leaving the comet remains illuminated, normally not observable; The green colour, on the other hand, is not only unusual, but striking”, said the expert. The comet was discovered in March 2022, less than a year ago, by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), from where its original scientific The name has been taken: C/2022 E3 (ZTF).
Why is it green? This is not the first time that a green comet has been visible from Earth, as collected by NASA in 2009. The green color is produced only in its head envelope (called a coma), which, like the turquoise aura, is caused by the reaction of ultraviolet light and carbon dioxide emanating from this space object, according to this 2021 study Who tried to explain this phenomenon.
What is that anti-tale? Although he is not the first person to wear it, he also has the distinction of being an Anti-Tale. For example, the famous Hale-Bopp sported him while passing by in 1997. The twin tails of a comet are often clearly visible, thanks to the fact that the dust trails reflect sunlight and the gas within the other tail is ionized, giving it a faint glow. But the third, Antitel, appears in the opposite direction of what you’d expect: an optical illusion seen when Earth crosses the comet’s orbital plane. “At this moment, the edge of the comet’s fan-shaped dust tail looks like a dot pointing toward the Sun,” Spaceweather explains.
Can you enjoy it with the naked eye? about. Walking through a city center and looking at the night sky, without further ado, it is unlikely to be seen. The ideal, as always, is to be in a rural area away from light pollution. “It’s small, and although people are trying to explain that it can be seen, there’s no way without binoculars or a telescope. Also, the moon is rising and there will be more light and There will be less contrast”, warned Armentia.
“It will pass close to the Polar Star on January 30th and the bright Capella on February 6th, moving at a very high angular velocity in the days leading up to its closest approach to Earth,” says astrophysicist Josep Maria Trigo. conversation,
NASA recalls that “it should be visible with a telescope and probably with binoculars”. Observers in the Northern Hemisphere will find the comet in the early morning sky, as it moves rapidly northwest during January. And it will be visible in early February in the Southern Hemisphere. Next week would be ideal to follow up. This comet is not expected to be the spectacle that Comet NEOWISE 2020 was, but it is still an incredible opportunity to make a personal connection with an icy visitor from the far outer Solar System.
How close is it? February 1 will be when it will be closest to Earth. On January 12, the comet reached its perihelion at a distance of 166 million kilometers and on February 1, its closest approach to our planet will be at a distance of only 42 million kilometers.
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