Welcome to a new NPR series where we shine a light on the people and things that make headlines — and the stories behind them.
For one night only! Meet C/2022 E3 (friends call it the Green Comet for short).
Who is she? A potentially unprecedented celestial event. So swap out your typical blue evening light for a green light instead. It’s a connection to history and the galaxy that won’t try to sell you anything.
- C/2022 E3 is a comet marked by its bright green core and long weak ionic tail.
- It was discovered in March 2022 and was visible through a telescope. But tonight, the comet is poised to be the most visible to the naked eye in the northern hemisphere as it passes.
- This could be the first time (or at least in thousands of years) that the comet will pass Earth. And you can watch!
This is my first effort to capture the “green comet”, comet c/2022 E3 (ZTF). It was a particular challenge due to the wet conditions and clouds, but I’m glad I was able to capture it at all! pic.twitter.com/t2VGEnfKX8
— Andrew McCarthy (@AJamesMcCarthy) January 19, 2023
What is the problem ? We know very little about C/2022 E3, but it appears its long orbit takes it from the outer reaches of the solar system and then toward the sun, according to The Planetary Society.
- It was discovered at the Zwicky Transient Facility on Palomar Mountain in California by astronomers Bryce Bolin and Frank Masci.
- Tonight we can see it from just 26.4 million miles away. This is the closest it will come to Earth on its journey.
- This comet has not been this close since the Paleolithic era. You will see the same colors in the sky as some long gone but never forgotten little monsters like this guy.
What are people saying?
“If C/2022 E3 had passed through the solar system before, it would have been last seen in the sky over 10,000 years ago.”
– Jon Giorgini, principal analyst at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told NPR
“You can find the comet by looking south of the Big Dipper, near the constellation Camelopardalis. If you can find the North Star, then you can trace directly south of it.”
– Bryce Bolin, one of the astronomers who discovered the comet, told the Washington Post
So what now? Your best bet to see the comet will be between Wednesday and Thursday February 1 and 2. The glow will be most visible in the night sky, but this may vary depending on the overcast skies in your area.
- Viewers in the northern hemisphere may begin to see the comet’s faint glow in the morning sky, according to NASA. In the following days, the southern hemisphere could have a better chance in turn.
- The comet may gain enough energy to exit our solar system, or it may remain bound in its elliptical orbit for another trip around the sun, Giorgini says.
- You can bask in the misty green glow and savor the comfort that even if you don’t file your taxes on time, the green comet will continue to hover there for many years to come.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
#onceinalifetime #green #comet #threatens #FOMO #victims #tonight