ScienceGreen comet E3 is approaching Earth: how to optimize the chances of...

Green comet E3 is approaching Earth: how to optimize the chances of seeing it with the naked eye?


The last time he was this close to Earth… 50,000 years ago! Suffice it to say that it would be a shame to miss the meeting scheduled for us by comet “C/2022 E3 (ZTF)”. Discovered in March 2022 by researchers at the California Observatory and tinted green due to the absorption of the sun’s ultraviolet rays by the molecule that makes up the comet (dicarbon), as explained in The newspaper “New York Times, it will approach Earth and should be visible from France to the naked eye at the end of January.

The diameter of this small rocky and icy body is estimated at about 1 km. The specialists report that after crossing the path of the Sun, the ice contained in its core sublimates, a phenomenon that results in the creation of a long tail of dust that causes it to reflect the light of our star.

Where should you position yourself?

The green-colored comet will reach its peak brightness as it approaches Earth. However, one should not expect a phenomenon as noticeable as the passage of Hale-Bopp in 1997 or Neowise in 2020, two comets that were then much larger.

To find a star in the sky, specialized sites offer detailed sky maps. They are very useful for understanding the trajectory of a comet and identifying the right area to try to pick up its radiation. It’s easy to see with binoculars. In good conditions, it could even be contemplated with the naked eye. This would require a sky without too much of the Moon and being in an area where light pollution is reduced.

Ciel et Espace offers its readers an impressive catalog of 150 places in France where observations can be made in the best conditions. You can find out about places suitable for astronomy using the Google Earth tool. It should be noted that if the comet can currently be observed after dark and before sunrise, we will see the return of the Moon in the early night of January 25th. After this date, it is better to choose observations in the middle of the night in order to be able to contemplate “C/2022 E3 (ZTF)”.

Fans won’t be the only ones keeping a close eye on this star’s transit in the coming days. “We will watch from all sides”astrophysicist Nicolas Biver assures AFP. “This is not the comet of the century, but we are happy that we can observe such comets once a year or two, because we consider them to be the remnants of the formation of the solar system.”He says.

If the best conditions for observations are collected this weekend of January 21/22, amateur astronomers “the most diligent and best equipped” will be able to trace the path of the comet on paper “before April”, the Stelvision website notes. After which he will slip out of our sight and continue on his way before seeing himself. “forever ejected from the solar system”scientists report.

Time to admire this comet when it shines brightest “likely to occur shortly before its closest approach to Earth on Wednesday, February 1st.” notes NASA which indicates that the ideal viewing window for the show is within the 2-hour period between 10:45 am and 12:14 pm (French time).


Thomas DESPOT with AFP


Source: TF1

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