tonight at Astronomical attention focuses on c/2022 E3 (ZTF). After a last visit about 50,000 years ago, the comet is returning, with the expectation that it will be able to be observed without the need for telescopes when it comes closest to Earth.
OC/2022 E3 (ZTF) it came from the Oort cloud, the large concentration of comets believed to exist at the edge of the solar system, located at a distance of 100,000 AU (average distance between Earth and the Sun). The Oort Cloud is also a quarter of the distance from Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun.
Only one kilometer in diameter, This space traveler has its main attraction in the greenish tone. It is believed that the green glow, which is also present in other comets, it results from an interaction between sunlight and diatomic carbon. Diatomic carbon is an unstable, gaseous form of the element in which carbon atoms are bonded in pairs. Scientists say it forms in the comet’s head when larger carbon-based substances are broken down by sunlight as the comet approaches Astro-Rei.
When diatomic carbon is excited by UV rays, emits light, resulting in the greenish ‘coma’ seen around the comet’s nucleus. However, UV light can also reduce diatomic carbon, which experts say explains why the comet’s tail is less green.
c/2022 E3 has been visible for several days now, leading many astrophotographers to point lenses in its wake, as is the case of the Portuguese Miguel Claro.
Check out some of the Cometa c/2022 E3 images already taken
Miguel Claro has documented the comet’s visit from the Alqueva Dark Sky Observatory in Portugal and in addition to the images, he also shared a video.
The best time to observe the small greenish rocky body is recorded this morning. Once all the conditions are met, the Comet c/2022 E3 can even be seen “with the naked eye”, no visual protection is required. It will help if you are in a place without light pollution and without clouds. Through a pair of binoculars, the space traveler should appear as a colorless and diffuse object, not showing its strange green tone.
THE height of greater visibility starting around 23:50 in mainland Portugal this Wednesday, ending with the light of dawn on February 2nd.
Another way to watch the transit is through live broadcasts, such as the one made by The Virtual Telescope Project, which accompanies the astronomical broadcast from 04:00 this Thursday.