Bright green comet may be visible to the naked eye in late January : NPR

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Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was discovered by astronomers using the Wide Field Survey Camera at the Zwicky Transient Facility in March 2022.

Dan Bartlett/NAS


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Dan Bartlett/NAS

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was discovered by astronomers using the Wide Field Survey Camera at the Zwicky Transient Facility in March 2022.

Dan Bartlett/NAS

A comet known as C/2022 E3, characterized by a bright green nucleus and a long narrow ion tail, will be visible in Earth’s sky later this month – possibly for the first time ever or co- at least for thousands of years.

“If C/2022 E3 had ever passed through the Solar System before, it would have been last seen in the sky more than 10,000 years ago,” said Jon Giorgini, senior analyst at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. .

Comets are basically lumps of frozen gases, rock and dust. But when they get close to the sun and heat up, they become powerful cosmic objects, spewing gas and dust in a way that creates their iconic shape: a glowing core and a flame-like tail that ‘ can stretch on for millions of miles.

Astronomers first saw the bright burst in March 2022 at the Zwicky Transient Facility on Mount Palomar in California. At the time, the comet was within the orbit of Jupiter.

According to NASA, the newly discovered comet is expected to reach its closest approach to the sun on January 12. Then, about three weeks later, starting on February 1, the comet is expected to make its closest approach to Earth – 26.4 million miles away. be accurate

The brightness of comets tends to be unpredictable, but this Our current behavior is promising, according to a recent explainer from Preston Dyches of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The naked eye may see its glow, though not only in the dark night sky. Observers with binoculars or telescopes have a better chance of seeing the rare light.

Viewers in the Northern Hemisphere can begin to see the comet’s faint glow in the morning sky this month, as it travels northwest, according to Dyches. The comet is likely to be visible to those in the Southern Hemisphere beginning in early February.

After its brief appearance in Earth’s skies, it is unclear where it will go.

Since scientists have only recently begun to track the trajectory of the comedy, there is still a lot to understand about C/2022 E3, says Giorgini.

It is possible that it will gain enough energy to exit our solar system, or it could remain attached to its elliptical orbit for another trip around the sun.

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