On March 2, 2022, the Samuel Oschin robotic telescope, part of the Zwicky Transient Facility installed at the Mount Palomar observatory, not far from San Diego, California, is pointed towards the constellation of the eagle. One is observed faint trace, with a luminous magnitude of the seventeenth degree, in motion. It can’t be a star. Their distance is such that it is not possible to detect their motion. It is dealing with a asteroid. The stellar object has a trajectory approaching the Sun and its luminosity increases progressively. It acts like a comet, so it’s one comet.
It is interesting to note that among the first to confirm the comet nature of the object there is Ernest Guido, Italian amateur astronomer from Castellammare di Stabia. Really good.
Since the comet is the third stellar object discovered in 2022 in the fifth half-month (indicated with A, B, C, D, E…), using the ZTF telescope, it is baptized, with little imagination, C/2022 E3 (ZTF). C as Comet, 2022 is the year, E the period of the year, 3 because third object detected, ZTF from the name of the device used. Clear isn’t it?
Comets are the cats of stellar objects, their behavior is never entirely predictable. In the case in question, however, it can be stated that on January 13, 2023 it will pass through the closest point to the Sun, the perihelionat 1.1 astronomical units (1 AU = 149.6 million km), while between the first and the second of February it will pass its closest point to the earth, the perigee, at a distance of approximately 0.29 AU (44 million km). 109 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon. On January 13, if in Italy, you need to point the telescope to the north-east, in the lower part of the horizon, starting at 5:18 in the morning.
Brief digression. Too many articles talking about C/2022 E3 (ZTF) say that perihelion will be reached on January 12, 2023 at 23.18 in the evening. True, but they speak of EST time, that of the east coast of the USA. Compared to the Italian time zone, they are 6 hours less. End of digression.
It will rise between the constellation of Boote and that of Hercules. If you want to see its trajectory relative to the planets of the solar system and other data, I recommend this link.
On January 30, 2023, it can be seen in the vicinity of the pole star, after midnight. It should have reached a brightness of around magnitude 7.4, not enough to be observed with the naked eye. However, this is a conservative estimate. If it were to continue to increase its brightness as it has to date, it could reach magnitude 5 or 6 by the end of the month. Which would make it visible no binoculars or telescopesas long as the night is dark. It will happen on January 21, when the next phase of the moon begins.
However, the Virtual Telescope Project will host a live observing session starting at 5 am on January 13. Just connect here or alternatively, here. It will be fascinating to see it fly, live, with its tail of energized particles, or rather tails because it is double, and its greenish crown of sublimated solid gases.
Comets are balls of frozen gas, dust and rock that orbit the Sun. As they approach our star, they are affected by increasing doses of radiation and energy, which “melt” them, causing them to release gas and debris. Which forms theirs foliage. If diatomic carbon and cyanogens are present, the foliage is greenish. There tail instead it is white, also because solar radiation splits the diatomic carbon molecules into atomic carbon.
Hulk, let me call it that, is a beauty: bright, green mane and white tail. Unless it shatters or disintegrates, much to the delight of the experts. With comets, as already mentioned, everything is possible and if it happened there would be so much to study and learn…
Its orbit affects the regions more external of our solar system, which explains why we waited more or less 50 thousand years to come back to our area. It was last seen by Homo Sapiens, in the company of surviving Neanderthal colleagues, during the Upper Paleolithic. Perhaps looking out over their stone in what is now Matera. At the time, the planet was inhabited by less than two million humans. If they had wondered if humanity would ever see her again, they would have answered in the affirmative.
We will have to say goodbye at the end of April 2023. We, mankind, are 7.9 billion today. We will be there to see the next step?
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Blogs | The green comet is visible again from Earth after 50,000 years: let me call it the Hulk – Il Fatto Quotidiano
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