Wenatchee Professor Weighs in on Green Comet
Sky gazers in Central Washington and the rest of the northern hemisphere are in for a rare treat later this month.
For the first time in 50,000 years, a glowing green comet will make an appearance.
Ralph Dawes is a professor of Earth Sciences at Wenatchee Valley College.
"Up in the northwest sky, after dark, near the Big Dipper, if you know where to look for that. It will be below and left of it. But that won't be for another couple weeks until it gets bright enough." Dawes said.
Dawes says the comet will likely appear fuzzy with the naked eye, but you should be able to see some of the comet's finer details with binoculars including its tail.
"As it gets closer to the sun, some of these ices evaporate and some of them have carbon in them. And as the molecules break down, it ends up making this green glow" Dawes added. "It is an example of most comets that originate way, way out there. This thing is 100 times further out than Pluto in terms of the other end of its orbit where it would have come from to begin with. That's called the Oort Cloud."
Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was discovered last March when it was already inside the orbit of Jupiter. It has already made its journey closest to the Sun.
It will make its closest pass of Earth between Feb. 1 and Feb. 2, according to NASA.
During that time, the comet will be 26 million miles away from the planet.
We should start seeing it in a couple weeks. People in the southern hemisphere should be able to see it in early February.