Green comet to fly past Earth this week ‘could be visible with the naked eye’
A giant green comet is set to fly past Earth tomorrow night (February 1) for the first time in 50,000 years and you'll be able to see it with the naked eye.
Given the codename of C/2022 E3 (ZTF) – or Dirty Snowball, according to AP News – the beastly flying rock first graced us with its presence during Neanderthal times, and will come around 26 million miles towards us.
The giant space rock was only found a year ago, but comes with a bizarre green hue.
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Experts say that this is because of light form the sun mixing with diatomic carbon – which is an unstable form of gas.
It will be visible in the northern night sky with binoculars and small telescopes, and possibly the naked eye in the darkest corners of the Northern Hemisphere.
It has not been confirmed exactly what time it can be seen, but it should start getting closer and closer to Mars, for those who need some kind of a landmark, by February 10.
While plenty of comets have graced the sky over the past year: “This one seems probably a little bit bigger and therefore a little bit brighter and it’s coming a little bit closer to the Earth’s orbit,” said NASA’s comet and asteroid-tracking guru, Paul Chodas.
It will be travelling at a relative speed of 128,500 mph and it is thought to measure around a mile across, with its tails extending millions of miles.
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Scientists are confident in their orbital calculations putting the comet’s last swing through the solar system’s planetary neighbourhood at 50,000 years ago, but they don’t know how close it came to Earth or whether it was even visible to the Neanderthals.
Robert Massey, deputy executive director of the U.K. Royal Astronomical Society, told Newsweek: “The shape looks like a very open curve, and as with all objects, it moves much faster when it's nearer the sun and much more slowly as it moves away again”.
It is thought that this could be the last chance to ever see the asteroid again, as its orbit will change trajectory and fly off somewhere else once it passes.
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