A newly discovered green comet will soon fly past Earth for the first time in 50 years. It was last seen in the night sky during the Stone Age. CNN.
The comet, detected on March 2, 2022 by astronomers using the Zwicky Transient Facility Wide Field Camera at the Palomar Observatory in San Diego County, California, made its closest approach to the Sun on January 12, according to NASA.
The comet, dubbed C/2022 E3 (ZTF), has an orbit around the sun that passes through the outer solar system, which is why it took such a long way - and a long time - to pass Earth again.
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According to EarthSky, an icy celestial object will fly past the Earth between February 1 and 2 at a distance of 42 to 44 million kilometers.
Even during its closest approach, the comet will be more than 100 times the distance of the Moon from Earth, according to EarthSky.
As the comet approaches Earth, observers will be able to spot it as a faint green blob next to Polaris. Comets reflect different colors of light due to their current orbital position and chemical composition.
The early morning sky will be the best time for viewing the comet for those living in the Northern Hemisphere, the space object will be harder to see for those living in the Southern Hemisphere.
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Depending on the brightness of the comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) may be visible even to the naked eye in dark skies, but with binoculars or a telescope, the comet will be easier to see.
A comet can be distinguished from stars by its striped tails of dust and charged particles, and by the green glow of the shell around it.
A shell forms around a comet as it passes close to the Sun, causing its ice to sublimate or immediately turn into gas. This makes the comet look fuzzy when viewed through telescopes.
After passing Earth, the comet will make its closest approach to Mars on February 10, according to EarthSky.
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If clouds or inclement weather make it difficult to see the sky, The Virtual Telescope Project will share a direct broadcast comets in the sky over Rome.
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