by Julio Garcia / science journalist
As of second half of January 2023, A comet that hasn’t passed this close to Earth and the Sun in 50,000 years -Since the Upper Paleolithic, when Neanderthals populated our planet- It can be seen through binoculars and, if you’re lucky, even with the naked eye.
The object in question has been baptized as C/2002 E3 (ZTF), Initial ZTF refers to zwicky momentary feature, A project designed to search the northern hemisphere for astronomical events called short periods that may result from nova and supernova explosions For asteroids and comets passing in front of stars and planets.
C/2002 E3 may have traveled to the interior of the Solar System since the call nube de oorta region that is one light-year away from the Sun, at the boundary of the Solar System, and This is where most of the coming comets originate, such as the famous Halley.Which passed very close to the Earth for the last time in the first months of 1986.
Furthermore, C/2002 E3—like most comets— It is composed of ice and dust and usually emits a greenish aura. According to the estimates of astronomers, its diameter can be about one kilometer.
The fact that it has these dimensions—relatively small—makes it smaller than neowiseThe last comet to be visible to the naked eye (without the need for a telescope) when it passed Earth In March 2020. another memorable comet was Hale-Bopp -Approximately 60 kilometers in diameter and very dangerous due to its size- Which reached near our planet in 1997.
By the way, Hale-Bopp steps The mass suicide of 39 people in the United States was related to —mostly young men and women—at a mansion in San Diego, California, in March 1997.
it belonged to group A Fanatic sect of the Internet and alienswho saw a “sign” to be able to Hale-bop get rid of their body and go to an appointment with the beings operating that spaceship It is believed that it was traveling hidden in the comet’s tail.
And it’s that these bodies in general, throughout history and to this day, have an aura of mystery, about the arrival of something that will save humanity from its problems and evils or that, on the contrary, They are an omen that hard times will come. This is clearly pure pseudoscience. Since there is no way to verify that any object in space made of matter has the potential to change the course of history Very little about humanity from the point of view of supernatural phenomena, in which a large number of people believe.
However, what is true is These items can be potentially dangerous If, for example, they hit the ground, In fact, there is more and more solid scientific evidence that suggests that a A large comet killed most of the dinosaurs about 66 million years ago. The result of this collision is a crater in the area of Chicxulubin the northwest of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
On the other hand, according to astronomers, it is believed that C/2002 E3 be expelled permanently from the solar system and so This is your last journey on earth.
It has also been said that the world’s largest telescope, which has been in orbit for some months, the James Webb Telescope, despite the fact that it will not be taking images directly, It will be in charge of studying the composition of comets. And that is, the closer it is to Earth, it would be just as easy for telescopes to measure its chemical composition As the Sun literally boils its outer layers by heating them.
Another reason why C/2002 E3 is so interesting is that we currently have advanced technologyScientists will be able to study in more detail the composition of the planets that lie at the fringes of the Solar System, Those gaseous worlds, such as Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune, which are still not fully understood, despite the fact that they have already been studied innumerably by means of probes and spacecraft that have spent many decades Visited them and took their photographs.
to observe Comet C/2002 E3 must live in the northern hemisphere (It is quite possible that it can be observed in Mexico) And obviously, there must be ideal climatic and light conditions. This way It is advisable to go to places where there is less lightAway from big cities.
Finally, there are many applications for smartphones on the Internet such as sky guide hey sky View, which allow for timely monitoring of the positions of planets, stars and other objects such as comets and asteroids. Although I don’t know whether the information around C/2002 E3 can already be seen in these two mentioned applications.