Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF).  Tonight, the green comet will be closest to our planet

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF), also known as the green comet, will be closest to our planet on Wednesday evening. The last time she visited the vicinity of the Earth, when Neanderthals were still living on it. Will we be able to see it with our own eyes?

On the night of February 1-2, Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF), dubbed the Green Comet, will be closest to our planet. The object, which was discovered last year, will be separated from Earth by 42 million km. This is “only” 110 times more than between the Earth and the Moon.

Once every 50 thousand years

C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is a long-period comet discovered by the Zwicky Transit Sky Survey on March 2, 2022. At that time, it had a brightness of 17.3 magnitude and was 640 million km from the Sun. It probably comes from the Oort Cloud – a hypothetical cloud of dust and ice that surrounds the outer regions of the solar system. At first it was assumed that it was planet, but then her guilty nature is discovered. It appears periodically in the sky. The celestial body revolves around the Sun in a long orbit that passes through the far reaches of the solar system, and therefore it took a long time to return to the circumference of our planet.

– It is distinguished by the fact that it approaches the Sun only once every 50,000 years, – said Przemyslaw Rudy from the Polish Comics Agency. “C/2022 E3 is of great interest because it visited Earth’s immediate vicinity in the Stone Age, when Neanderthals and Denisovans were still living on Earth.”

Comet C / 2022 E3 (ZTF)Clash

For seasoned observers

The comet is moving and at perihelion it will be in the constellation Giraffe. The comet passed through the point of its orbit closest to the sun on January 12, at a distance of 166 million km. On February 5-6, the comet will pass near the bright star Capella, on February 10-11 it will pass in the sky near Mars (at a distance of 1.5 degrees), and from February 13-15 it will pass in front of it. The open Hyade cluster, near the bright star Aldebaran.

The distance and brightness of a comet is insignificant, as it is of a cosmic body, and is a recipe for success in observations, even with the naked eye. Unfortunately, weather conditions can prevent it from appearing in the night sky. According to the forecast, the sky over most of Poland will be overcast overnight from Wednesday to Thursday.

In addition, it must be remembered that even in the event of a temporary removal, appropriate skills are essential for productive feedback. As noted by Carol Wojski, author of the website With His Head in the Stars, an experienced observer would be able to find it if it was in a sufficiently dark place and the night was moonless.

– If you are under a really dark sky, far from the city lights, and you know where to look, you can see a very faint, misty spot – Wójcicki explains.

impact on the ground

It is believed that comets had a significant impact on the appearance of our planet. One theory is that most of the water in the oceans comes from comet nuclei.

– Millions of years ago, millions of comets constantly bombarded the Earth, the ice in it melted, providing the environment with water, – explained Rudy, noting that this hypothesis has not been confirmed. However, this is not the only theory put forward by researchers. “According to some scientists, the confirmed content of organic compounds on the surface of comets indicates that they could provide the Earth with the basic building blocks of life, which, as a result of evolution, gave rise to cellular life,” – said the expert.

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF), image taken December 24, 2022Dan Bartlett

Main image source: Clash

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