- The green comet is visible in the night sky now.
- It’s best viewed in the early-morning hours.
- Binoculars or a small telescope are recommended.
A green comet is speeding past Earth right now – here are some things to know about it.
When To See It
It’s visible in the night sky through the middle of February, depending on conditions in your area – including, weather, cloud cover and light pollution. Astronomers say the best time to look is in the predawn hours and under the darkest conditions possible.
The green comet’s closest approach to Earth, also known as perigee, is overnight Wednesday into Thursday, when it will pass within about 28,000 miles.
Where To See It
The green comet is generally visible in the northern sky through early February. Look for the North Star, or Polaris, for a general idea of how to spot it. By Feb. 10, it will have moved farther east and Mars will be a good reference point for viewing, according to Space.com.
Night sky and stargazing apps will also be helpful in pinpointing it, and website The Sky Live has a daily guide to viewing the green comet.
How To See It
While it might be visible with the naked eye under perfect conditions and at the right time, astronomers say binoculars or a small telescope will greatly raise the odds of spotting the green comet as it zooms past Earth at speeds of about 128,500 mph.
If you don’t want to take your chances, a live stream of the green comet’s closest approach will be broadcast by the Virtual Telescope Program starting at 11 p.m. ET Wednesday.
Why Is It Green?
Scientists say carbon in the gas cloud around the comet’s nucleus makes it appear green, hence its nickname. The nucleus is about a mile across, while the green comet’s tails extend millions of miles, according to the Associated Press.
Despite its green glow, the comet isn’t expected to be nearly as bright as 2020’s Neowise.
What’s All The Fuss About?
One reason the green comet is getting so much attention is because the last time it cruised through Earth’s neighborhood was some 50,000 years ago – when the planet was in the midst of the last ice age.
It’s what’s known as a long-period comet because of the amount of time it takes to orbit the sun.
“Comets such as this are messengers from the outermost reaches of our solar system, taking tens of thousands of years to make their way into our vicinity,” CalTech astronomer Tom Prince told Space.com.
The green comet’s official name is C/2022 E3 (ZTF).
Want To Know More?
Join us live on Facebook Tuesday at noon ET. Astronomer and director of the University of New Hampshire Observatory, John Gianforte, will share his video and photos of the comet, give you tips on how to see it for yourself, and answer any questions.
The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.