If you haven’t weathered the cold winter nights yet to see a green comet in the night sky, this week could be your best chance.
Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will be located near Mars in the constellation Taurus, making it easier to spot as it fades away from Earth. The comet will appear near the Red Planet in February. from 9 to Feb. 14, after which it will begin to approach the constellations of Orion and Eridanus. For viewers in the continental United States, Mars is high in the night sky about an hour after sunset this month, making the comet ideal for viewing in the early evening.
If the sky in your area is cloudy or you can’t get outside to see Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) approaching Mars, you still have a great opportunity to see this celestial spectacle. As part of the Virtual Telescope project, a free live stream of the comet’s approach to the Red Planet is provided on the project website. (will open in a new tab) and youtube channel (will open in a new tab). The live stream will begin on Saturday (February 11) at 2:00 pm EST (19:00 GMT).
RELATED: Green comet flaunts its tail in dazzling deep space photo
Read more: How to see and photograph comets
For skywatchers who want to see the comet in person, Mars offers an excellent landmark for locating this “messenger from the farthest corners of our solar system.” During February, the Red Planet has a magnitude of -0.2 to +0.4, so it’s not that hard to spot in most areas without significant light pollution.
In addition to Mars, Venus and Jupiter are also clearly visible in the evening sky. Be sure to check out our guide to the brightest planets in the February night sky and how to see them to soak up our Solar System neighbors for a month.
(Image credit: TheSkyLive.com)
Mars is high overhead around 19:00 local time for a month next to the constellations Auriga and Taurus. If you’re unfamiliar with how a planet looks in the sky, there are a large number of popular stargazing apps available for mobile devices that can help you find the comet, Mars, and nearby constellations.
Read more: Best Stargazing Apps: Augmented Reality Apps and Virtual Sky Maps to Help You Navigate the Night Sky
(Image credit: TheSkyLive.com)
The comet is moving away, but is still visible in the night sky through binoculars and, of course, through a telescope. On Tuesday (February 7), I could barely see the comet with the naked eye after I gave my eyes time to adjust and first found it with my portable 4.5-inch (11.4 cm) desktop reflecting telescope. . Through a telescope at 35x magnification, it was easy to distinguish between the comet’s nucleus and the hazy green coma; your results will vary depending on the visibility conditions in your area.
Just be aware that the stunning full color images of the comet you see online were taken with top-notch astrophotography equipment and are usually the result of multiple long exposures stacked together and processed with dedicated astrophotography software. Views through a telescope or binoculars won’t be as spectacular on their own, but they still offer a chance to see this visitor before he potentially leaves our solar system for good.
According to Geza Gyuk (will open in a new tab)an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, for comets like C/2022 E3 (ZTF), which have highly elliptical orbits, “it’s very easy for them to break their orbit, forcing them to leave the solar system entirely.”
If you’re hoping to catch C/2022 E3 (ZTF) as it approaches Mars in the night sky, our guides to the best telescopes and best binoculars are a great place to start. If you want to photograph a green comet, check out our guide on how to view and photograph comets, as well as our best cameras for astrophotography and the best lenses for astrophotography.
Don’t miss your chance to see this intruder before he flies away. Clear sky!
Editor’s Note: If you are filming C/2022 E3 near Mars and would like to share it with Space.com readers, please send your photos, comments, name and location to spacephotos@.
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