How to see the Green Comet with the naked eye this week

Space rock has not passed Earth since the age of Neanderthals

The comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was discovered by astronomers using the wide-field survey camera at the Zwicky Transient Facility in March 2022. AFP
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A comet that has not been near Earth for 50,000 years will soon be visible to some stargazers.

The comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) — or Green Comet — has not passed Earth since the age of Neanderthals.

But this week, the rare phenomenon can be viewed with the naked eye — if you're lucky.

It will come closest to Earth on Wednesday.

How to see the Green Comet

The Green Comet has a magnitude of 5.9, meaning it is only visible where the sky is really dark.

But as it gets closer to Earth, it could reach magnitude 5, equivalent to that of Eta Ursae Minoris, the left bottom corner star of the Little Dipper, according to the website IFLScience.

That means the space rock could be visible with the naked eye, or if not, with a pair of binoculars.

Here is how to find it in the night sky, thanks to TheSkyLive website.

The comet could come within 42 million kilometres from Earth on Wednesday, according to EarthSky.

It was discovered in March 2022 by astronomers at the Zwicky Transient Facility. It passed perihelion — meaning when it was closest to the Sun — on January 12.

How to see a Green Comet live stream

A live stream of the comet is being broadcast by the YouTube channel THEREALPAX.

Its orbit close to the Sun takes about 50,000 years to complete, making the last time any keen stargazers can catch the Green Comet in their lifetime.

Why does the comet appear green?

It gets its colour from the presence of gaseous chemical diatomic carbon.

When the comet passes close to the sun, its ice skips the usual liquid phase and turns into a gas, creates a temporary atmosphere called a coma, which glows.

In December 2021, the bright green Comet Leonard was spotted in the skies above Abu Dhabi during a rare approach towards Earth.

And in January 2018, another green comet was seen from Dubai, igniting social media debate on what it was.

Updated: February 01, 2023, 5:18 AM
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