When, where and how do you see the green comet now?

A green comet that may never return to the inner solar system is approaching Earth. But how can you see it now and where should you look?

C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was first spotted by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) — an astronomical survey conducted by the Palomar Observatory in California — on March 2, 2022, and is scheduled to approach Earth on February 1, 2023, when it will fall on A distance of approximately 26 million miles from us.

Currently, it lies about 34 million miles away after it reached its closest point to the sun — or perihelion — on January 12, 2023.

Comets are astronomical bodies It consists of frozen gases, dust, and rocks that orbit the sun. Sometimes referred to as “cosmic snowballs,” these objects are blasted with increasing amounts of radiation as they approach our star, spewing out gases and debris.

Artist’s illustration of a green comet. A comet known as C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will soon approach Earth.

This process forms a glowing atmosphere around the comet’s nucleus, known as a coma – which, in the case of C/2022 E3 (ZTF) green glowing– and two huge tails of gas and dust.

At present, C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is visible in the night sky – morning and evening – for observers in the Northern Hemisphere.

Tonight, it’s in the constellation Draco but it’s moving in the direction of the North Star, or Polaris, and by Thursday night it will have moved into the constellation Ursa Minor, also known as the Little Dipper, where it will stay for three more days.

The next four evenings—January 25-28—offer a good viewing opportunity since there will be relatively little interference from moonlight, not to mention that the comet is currently a polar object for observers in North America, which means it won’t lie below the horizon.

Tonight, the comet will be at least 25 degrees high in the sky from ten in the evening until dawn, and this changes to nine in the evening until dawn on Thursday evening, according to numbers from Sky and Telescope Magazine Watch. On the other hand, on Friday and Saturday, C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will be above 25 degrees from 7 p.m. until dawn.

It is expected that the comet will continue to shine until the time of its closest approach, although predicting the brightness of comets is a very difficult business.

The currently observed object has a magnitude of just under +6, which means that it is theoretically visible to with the naked eye Under ideal conditions, though, in practice it may be difficult to detect without the help of many sites.

There have already been reports of the comet seen with the naked eye from very dark, rural locations with little light pollution – it can be seen as a small, diffuse smudge. But most people will need binoculars or a telescope, especially if you live in an urban area.

“It should be fairly close to the bright star Polaris, which might help you find it by eye,” said Christopher Pattison, a senior researcher at the Institute of Cosmology and Gravity (ICG) at the University of Portsmouth, UK. Newsweek.

“The easiest way to find it is to use a stargazing app on a smartphone, like Stellarium,” he said. “Just make sure you update the one you’re using to include the comet. If you want to try and find it manually and figure out your constellations, the comet is passing through the constellation Draco, and it will pass Ursa Minor by the end of the month. In February, it will then be in a constellation called Camelopardalis.”

From January 29th, moonlight will be increasingly interfering in the evening, and between February 2nd and 6th there will be bright moonlight all night. Then, a good moonless window will open again on the evening of February 7, though the comet will fade.

After passing the constellation Camelopardalis, C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will move through Auriga and Taurus, and will likely fade to naked eye view by the second week of February, said Robert Massey, deputy executive director of the UK’s Royal Astronomical Society. Newsweek.

“By April it will be closer to the Sun in the sky and much fainter, so it will be very difficult to find it even with a telescope.

A comet wouldn’t be the easiest thing to pinpoint, Massey said. He recommends looking on a clear night from a dark location – away from light pollution – when the moon is not in the sky, so days around the full moon on February 6 are best avoided.

“I recommend using a finder chart to help find it with binoculars,” Massey said. “Binoculars are ideal for beginners trying to find a comet because they are easy to use, while a telescope has a much smaller field of view. If you can see it with binoculars, try with the naked eye.”

Astronomers recommend choosing a spot with a good view of the sky, making sure to allow your eyes to adjust to the dark for at least 15 minutes. If you need to look at the stargazing app, it is recommended to turn on the night vision mode.

Once the comet passes Earth, it will exit the inner solar system. Probably won’t come back again.

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