(CTN News) – On Wednesday, a newly discovered comet will make its closest approach to Earth.
It took around 50,000 years for the object to reach us.
Astronomers have captured photographs of a distinct green hue around the comet’s body.
Those expecting a brilliant streak of emerald in the sky will be disappointed. The brightness is right at the threshold of what can be seen with the naked eye.
As reported in the media, we’re going to get this bright green object lighting up the sky, says Dr Robert Massey, deputy executive director of the Royal Astronomical Society.
“Unfortunately, that won’t be the case.”
A smudge in the sky might be visible away from light pollution and under dark skies – if you know what you’re looking for.
The faint white blur will appear in binoculars, so stargazers are more likely to see it that way.
You can find it even with a small pair of binoculars, says Massey.
Dust and ice make up most of a comet’s composition. During their approach to the Sun, the ice vaporizes and the dust falls off to form the signature long tail.
It will look more like a classic comet if you can see the tail,” Massey says.
Last March, astronomers discovered the comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) at Palomar Observatory.
The Northern Hemisphere has been seeing it through binoculars for a few weeks now.
This Wednesday, however, it will make its closest approach to Earth at a distance of 41 million kilometers (26 million miles).
A collection of icy bodies at the edge of the Solar System, the Oort cloud, is believed to be the source of the object.
First, Massey suggests looking for the pole star, which always appears in the same place in the sky.
Look directly north for a star that hangs distinctly by itself to identify the pole star.
Using free planetarium software online, you can determine where the comet will be moving in relation to the pole star that night.
When the moon sets on Thursday morning, this will be the most suitable time to view it.
It should appear just to the right of the pole star at that time.
Green comets are not uncommon and are usually caused by the breakdown of a reactive molecule called dicarbon, which is composed of two carbon atoms connected by double bonds.
Digital cameras are better able to capture such colors due to their enhanced sensitivity.
Despite its brightness, the comet will not match the spectacle of the 2020 Comet NEOWISE – the brightest comet visible from the Northern Hemisphere since 1997.
A chance to see it once in a lifetime is rare, according to the Planetary Society.