Catch a Glimpse of the Rare Green Comet: All you need to know
A recently discovered green comet, named C/2022 E3 (ZTF), is estimated to come closest to Earth around February 2 and might be visible to the naked eye under a clear night sky. This green comet is a rare sight, as it only appears near Earth after nearly 50,000 years, and is not expected to come close again for another 50,000 years. Here's everything you need to know about the green comet.
What is the ‘green comet’?
- The green comet, C/2022 E3 (ZTF), was first spotted by astronomers using the wide-field survey camera at the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) in the US in March 2022.
- The comet is thought to come from the Oort cloud, which is a spherical region of outer space enveloping our sun and consisting of numerous small objects such as comets and asteroids. NASA terms it "the most distant region of our solar system" and "Home of the Comets".
When and where can the green comet be seen?
- The green comet can be seen in the morning sky in the Northern Hemisphere, as it moves swiftly toward the northwest during January. It'll become visible in the Southern Hemisphere in early February.
- According to Weather.com, in Indian skies, when looking in the northwest direction, one might spot it 16° above the horizon in the Bootes constellation. However, with lights from buildings and streetlights, it can be difficult to make it out without equipment. The Virtual Telescope Project will be hosting a free livestream of comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) on Feb. 1 at 11:00 p.m. EST or 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, January 31, which can be watched on their website or YouTube channel.
Why is it green in color?
- Comets tend to leave a light "behind them" as they move, and the color of this light depends on the composition and characteristics of the comet. The green color of this comet is thought to arise from the presence of diatomic carbon, which is a molecule that emits green light when excited by ultraviolet rays in solar radiation.
Is the green comet rare?
- The green comet is a long-period comet, which takes more than 200 years to orbit the Sun. With a highly elliptical orbit, the comet will head back to the Oort cloud and make its next appearance roughly 50,000 years later. However, given their orbits, it's not unique for comets to reappear close to Earth only after many, many years.
The green comet is a rare sight that might be visible to the naked eye under a clear night sky, and is estimated to come closest to Earth around February 2. The comet is thought to come from the Oort cloud and is expected to be visible in the morning sky in the Northern Hemisphere, and in the Southern Hemisphere in early February. The green color of the comet is thought to arise from the presence of diatomic carbon, and it's a long-period comet that is not expected to come close again for another 50,000 years.