Comet C/2022 E3 has lost part of its tail.  But it is still heading towards the ground.  When and how do you see it?

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Comet C/2022 E3 (ZFT) has received exceptional media coverage in recent weeks. Discovered in March 2022, the object is still approaching Earth and will be the first comet in more than two years that skywatchers have the opportunity to see.

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZFT) has lost part of its tail. Blame it on solar activity

The first images of C/2022 E3 have been circulating for days networkWhich led to an interesting discovery. As noted Space.com, The comet has lost part of its tail in recent days, as we can see in the pictures of Austrian photographer and comet hunter Michael Jäger.

C/2022 E3’s gas tail has become much thinner near the coma surrounding the comet’s nucleus, as seen in the following image taken by an Austrian on January 17 from southern Germany (Bavaria).

As shown SpaceWeather.comThe strong solar activity observed in mid-January is responsible for the loss of some of the material making up the tail. It was probably damaged by the solar wind shortly after a strong coronal mass ejection (CME).

The comet’s tail consists of Gases And the dust emitted by the comet under the influence of the sun when the comet approaches our star. The tail of gas is “blown away” by the solar wind, so it always points away from the sun.

As we can see in the following image taken on January 20 by an Austrian photographer, three days later, C/2022 E3’s tail looks less impressive. Experts note that more coronal mass ejections may occur in the coming days, which could lead to more damage to the tail.

Where and when do we monitor the comet? It can be a challenge

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZFT) has already passed perihelion (the point in its orbit at its lowest point) Distance: after away from the Sun), but still approaching the Earth. This means that with each passing day this object will be more and more visible in the sky. The comet will be closest to our planet on February 1, so the best time to observe falls on the night of February 1-2.

Unfortunately, the brightness of C/2022 E3 will definitely not match the popular C/2020 F3 (Neowise) from 2020. Recent estimates suggest this year’s comet will peak at around magnitude 5.4 – it should be marginally brighter than Uranus, Which most people can’t see without binoculars.

C/2022 E3 will be in the border Visible to the naked eye for people with excellent eyesight. Here, however, is an important note – to spot them without any optical tool, you need to go under really dark skies, properly accustom your eyes to the dark and know where to look. Under the typical rural skies of Poland, it is definitely worth taking binoculars with you. This is the best tool for spotting comets and should allow you to see C/2022 E3 as a gray blot.

The comet is now in the constellation Dragon, but on the evening of February 1 we must look for it in the constellation Giraffe. It will be visible above the horizon all night, and will be closest to peak (71.5 degrees above the horizon) at 21:20. However, observations will be hampered by the approaching full moon, and in Poland – according to forecasts – also clouds.

More about comet C / 2022 E3 (ZTF) can be found at Gazeta.pl

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