A comet known for its green hue is making a cameo in the night sky on Tuesday. The last time the comet was this close to Earth, the Neanderthals were still around. Now — weather permitting — it will be visible in the night sky.
According to Live Science, the comet — known as C/2022 E3 (ZTF) — will be roughly 26.4 million miles from Earth, the closest approach in about 50,000 years. Since January, the comet has been slowly growing brighter.
Those in the northern hemisphere will be able to see the comet without the need of a telescope, assuming they can avoid the light pollution found in populated areas. For those unable to see it from outside, the Virtual Telescope Project’s livestream starts at 11 p.m. and can be found above.
For those looking outside, the comet will be visible between the North Star and the rest of the Big Dipper. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the ancient piece of ice.
“Comets are chunks of dirty ice — ice with lots of dust and dirt frozen into it left over from the days that the sun and the planets were first forming 5 billion years ago,” Andrew Fraknoi, astronomy professor at the University of San Francisco, explained to KQED.
The comet was first spotted by scientists in March 2022 at the Zwicky Transient Facility in San Diego County, KQED reported. The comet was inside Jupiter’s orbit at the time, and it will be between Mars and Earth during its Tuesday night passing.
East Bay Astronomical Society astronomer Gerald McKeegan told KQED that the comet may have a faint tail, “and may even appear to have two tails: a gas tail and a particle tail.”
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