How to See the Green Comet in Arizona Skies
Where to See the Green Comet in Arizona
The Green Comet sounds like the title of the next blockbuster Marvel Movie. I’m pretty sure the title, “The 50,000 Year Return of Comet 2022 E3ZTF” wouldn’t test well with audiences – even if it were fiction.
Which it isn’t. But maybe I'll find a simpler way to refer to this cosmic marvel.
For now, I'll sidestep the possibility that this celestial phenomenon could be some kind of omen or harbinger of an unsavory future event. I’ve read a bunch of comic books and I've too many SciFimovies. For now, I’ll try not to imagine how Stan Lee would craft this into a Fabulous Science Fiction extravaganza. Afterall, we live in the modern age - we’ll look to Science Fact to tell us what’s up.
Introducing Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF)
According to NASA’s Science website, Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF), “was discovered by astronomers using the wide-field survey camera at the Zwicky Transient Facility [in San Diego last] year in early March.” (Thus, the “ZTF” designation).
Some of us may already be able to spot this fuzzy little ball of green dust in our darkened Arizona skies, but it may still be too dim to see with the naked eye. A good pair of binoculars or a simple consumer-grade telescope may be enough to help you locate this fascinating object.
How to See Comet ZTF
The comet is an icy, dusty, rocky celestial object and it’s been getting steadily brighter as it makes its way through our solar system. On January 12th, The Green Comet (to use his unscientific Superhero name) made his closest pass to our sun, or perihelion. The comet will be at perigee, or closest to our planet, around February 1st and 2nd.
Our dark skies in Southeastern Arizona are the perfect place to catch a glimpse of this once-in-a-50,000-year event. You might even be able to catch Comet ZTF (the short, more boring name scientists use to refer to the comet) with your naked eye alone. The new moon on January 21st will set up the best conditions for viewing. Be sure to set your alarm and be prepared to get up early, because it should be most visible just before dawn.
Start training your eyes now to look for a green, fuzzy object in the sky. They comet may be pretty dim, astrologically speaking. About the magnitude of some of the fainter stars in our sky. If you’re one of those extra cool sciency types with really sweet space equipment, follow the link for some tips on how to get a photo of Comet ZTF.
Where Did It Come From, Where Will It Go…
This icy ball of spacey goodness most likely takes about 50,000 years to orbit our sun. That means the last time it showed up, Neanderthals were still around, and humans had just begun to migrate out of Africa. It’s likely that without binoculars or telescopes, no one even noticed ole ‘ZTF back then.
And unless you’re some kind of Time-Lord or Super Being, it’s likely you’ll never see it again.