When and where can you see the green comet from the United States?
Yesterday, Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was about 26 million miles from Earth, according to NASA. That is the This far-flung ball of rock, dust, and ice has come closest to our planet in the last 50,000 years. The last time C/2022 E3 (ZTF) paid a visit to this neck of the solar system was the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic, when our species, Homo sapiens, first began to migrate to Asia and Eurasia from Africa. And if our ancestors happened to glimpse this particular comet, gazing up at the night sky in wonder, they might have noticed something quite remarkable about it: it’s green.
During this visit to the inner Solar System, C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will be closely watched by astronomers who will attempt to study its key green color in depth. The hue is probably caused by the presence of diatomic carbon. Due to a series of complex physical interactions, the comet’s head appears green, but the tail does not.
How and when to see the comet
The comet’s path has been traced by NASA, allowing people to follow its progress. In some places it was already visible in January, but in February the comet will be much clearer in the sky, light pollution permitting.
If you live in a place with a lot of light pollution, you have the option to follow the comet on YouTube.
How long has NASA known about the comet?
NASA said in a press release that astronomers originally saw the comet in March 2022.
In addition, NASA indicated that Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) could be “barely visible to the eye in the dark night sky” on February 2. The comet’s brightness is “notoriously unpredictable,” according to the organization. A greenish coma, a broad dust tail, and a long, faint ion tail are all features NASA cites for this comet.
In the northern hemisphere, the comet will be visible with a telescope or binoculars in early morning skies throughout January, according to USA Today.
According to NASA, the comet most likely originated in the outermost region of the Solar System, the Oort Cloud, which NASA describes as a “large, thick-walled bubble of frozen chunks of space debris the size of mountains and sometimes larger.”
Finally, in a Dec. 24 press release, the agency stated that “the new long-period comet has brightened considerably and is now sweeping across the northern constellation Corona Borealis in the morning sky. However, it is still too dark to see without a telescope.”