Stargazers in the High Desert will have the opportunity to see a comet appearing for the first time in about 50,000 years.
The comet, designated “C/2022 E3 (ZTF)”, made its closest approach to the sun last week and will appear in our sky by February 24. 1 and February 2, NASA officials said when it made its closest approach to Earth.
As the comet approaches Earth, observers will be able to see it late at night or in the hours before dawn, near the bright star Polaris, also called the North Star. The icy comet, which gets brighter as it gets closer to the sun, will be visible as it passes some 26 million miles away.
Dubbed the “green comet” by many, the comet will not be as bright as other famous comets such as Halley’s or Hale-Bopp.
how to see comet
The comet should be visible to stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere and most of January with binoculars in the morning sky. According to NASA, those in the Southern Hemisphere can see the comet as early as February.
The comet may even become visible to the naked eye in dark skies by late January, depending on how bright it gets in the coming weeks.
Victorville resident Charlie Ramos, 67, and his family plan to take some binoculars and Celestron telescopes to a remote part of the High Desert to view the comet.
“We found that the best place to watch stars and comets is between the Lucerne Valley and Barstow,” Ramos told the Daily Press. “There is almost no light pollution there.”
Comets can be distinguished from stars by their dust tails and energetic particles, as well as the bright green coma surrounding them.
A coma is an envelope that a comet forms around as it passes close to the sun, causing its ice to sublimate or turn directly into gas. This causes the comet to appear blurry when observed with telescopes.
The comet was discovered by astronomers on March 2 using the Zwicky Transient Facility’s wide-field survey camera at the Palomar Observatory in San Diego County.
According to The Planetary Society, the comet’s orbit around the sun runs through the outer limits of the solar system, which is why it took so long to orbit the Earth.
once in a lifetime
The future of the comet’s journey after passing through the inner solar system is unknown. However, do not expect to see C/2022 E3 (ZTF) again from Earth skies in your lifetime.
“We don’t yet have an estimate of how far it will go from Earth – estimates may vary – but if it does come back, it won’t take at least 50,000 years,” said Jessica Lee, an astronomer at the Royal Greenwich Observatory. told Newsweek.
“Some estimates suggest that the orbit of this comet is so eccentric that it is no longer in an orbit,” meaning that C/2022 E3 (ZTF) may never return, he added. January and February may be the only times in recorded history that humans can see C/2022 E3 (ZTF) from Earth.
“Most known long-period comets have only been seen once in recorded history because their orbital periods are very, very long,” NASA said. Description to CBS. “Myriad more unknown long-period comets have never been seen by the human eye. Some have orbits so long that our species didn’t exist yet when they last passed through the inner solar system.”
Daily Press correspondent Rene Ray De La Cruz can be reached at 760-951-6227 or RDeLaCruz@VVDailyPress.com. Follow him on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz
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