The Green Comet - How to see it before it’s gone

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Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 10:37 AM EST
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The last time this comet came close to earth was 50,000 years ago. Neanderthals and ancient humans had the last chance to see it. It’s official name is C/2022 E3 (ZTF). Also know as the Green Comet. Now it’s back, only 27 million miles away from us.

Is that close enough to see it?

Yes, and no. The moon is bright in the night sky and lights in cities will make it hard to see with the naked eye. Astronomer Howard Hochhalter told me a pair of binoculars will help, and now is the time to look. “February first and second is when the comet will actually be the closest to the earth, which is about 27 million miles. So at that point, it will arguably be brightest,” said Hochhalter.

“I think that binoculars will likely be the best tool to use it use this to observe. There is going to be a relatively bright moon in the sky, not too far away. And so that can create some competition for light, or your eyes ability to see fainter objects. And this is why binoculars will be helpful because they are very directional.”

Look to the northern sky near midnight, close to the Big Dipper. The comet is still in our solar system for February, but as it gets farther from Earth it gets less bright and harder to see.

Courtesy NASA
Courtesy NASA(Station)