Get ready stargazers, after a long gap of about 50,000 years a rare glowing comet, C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is making a trip back to planet earth.
The glowing comet will be closest Wednesday and Thursday next week. As per the reports, the exotic comet will shoot past the planet at a mere distance of 2.5 light minutes which is just 27m miles.
What is Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF)?
Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was first discovered in March last year by the wide-field survey camera at the Zwicky Transient Facility when it was already inside the orbit of Jupiter. While it was initially believed to be an asteroid, it began developing a tail as the Sun's influence began vapourising the ice. At the time of its discovery, it was shining with a magnitude of 17.3.
Comets consist mostly of ice coated with dark organic material. They are referred to as dirty snowballs and may yield important clues about the formation of our solar system. Nasa said that Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is now sweeping through stars near the northern boundary of the constellation Bootes. It is outward bound but still growing brighter.
Is the green comet visible?
Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is now visible in several parts of the world, thanks to its close approach and the rise in magnitude. The comet no longer requires a telescope for viewing and can be seen with the naked eye in countries like Spain with little light pollution and clear skies.
According to Nasa, Comet ZTF will make its closest approach on February 2, coming to within about 2.4 light-minutes of our planet. "Its faint ion tail has been buffeted by recent solar activity. This visitor from the distant Oort cloud rounded the Sun on January 12," Nasa said in a statement.
The comet will be visible in the skies above India in several parts of the country, including in Ladakh, and eastern India. It is most likely to be at its best on 1 and 2 February.
The Indian Astronomical Observatory in Hanle had captured the comet while it was in transit. Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was photographed by astronomers using the Himalayan Chandra Telescope, which is operated by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bengaluru.
Later, by the middle of the month, the comet's glow will be dimmed again as it gets back into the solar system to the Oort cloud.