NASA: Green Comet comes closest to Earth since Stone Age

Published February 1st, 2023 - 01:18 GMT
Green Comet
BAKER, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 31: Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is visible in the sky above the Mojave National Preserve in San Bernadino County as it approaches Earth for the first time in about 50,000 years on January 31, 2023 near Baker, California. The comet was discovered on March 2, 2022, and will be at its closest point to Earth on February 1, 2023. Its orbit extends far out into our solar system and has a green aura because it is passing close enough to the sun for the outgassing of its diatomic carbon molecules to react with the solar wind. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Ethan Miller / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

ALBAWABA - The National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the United States said that a recently discovered comet will make its closest approach to Earth for the first time since the Stone Age of the Middle Paleolithic era 50,000 years ago.

The rare appearance of the "Green Comet" will be visible by telescope, and possibly with binoculars, but may also be seen with the naked eye in dark skies, NASA said in a statement.

The dirty snowball "makes its closest approach to the Sun on Jan. 12, and then passes its closest to Earth on Feb. 2," the U.S. space agency said, noting that the comet will then speed away again, unlikely to return for millions of years.

"Comets are notoriously unpredictable, but if this one continues its current trend in brightness, it'll be easy to spot with binoculars, and it's just possible it could become visible to the unaided eye under dark skies," it added.

NASA said that skywatchers in the Northern Hemisphere "will find the comet in the morning sky, as it moves swiftly toward the northwest during January." But it added that the comet will become visible in the Southern Hemisphere in early February.

"This comet isn't expected to be quite the spectacle that Comet NEOWISE was back in 2020," it said. "But it's still an awesome opportunity to make a personal connection with an icy visitor from the distant outer solar system."

EarthSky said the celestial object will be around 26 million miles to 27 million miles (42 million kilometers to 44 million kilometers) away. It noted that even during its closest approach, it will still be more than 100 times more than the moon's distance away from Earth

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