Space enthusiasts in the state may be able to see a rare green comet in the next few days.
The comet was discovered last year by astronomers in Southern California and found to have last passed Earth about 50,000 years ago.
Mike Jensen, supervisor of the Manitoba Museum’s planetarium and science gallery program, said the comet’s emergence time and cometary color make this comet unique among others.
“The last time the Earth appeared anywhere within sight, we’re talking about primitive humans walking on it,” Jensen said. “And then there’s its color. Most people associate it with comets. Comets are often called the ghosts of the night sky because they often have a slightly whitish blue appearance. This is a little green. All comets are composed of a different kind of material, which just happens to contain a little more elemental carbon.”
Jensen notes that the comet’s green hue is subtle compared to the subtle red that surrounds Mars in the night sky.
As Jensen said, Wednesday and Thursday are the best days to see the comet, and that’s when it comes closest to Earth, which is 42 million kilometers away.
“Being close to us means that we get the best visibility possible. An added advantage is that it also appears high in the northern sky. It is placed in the circumpolar star, in other words, it orbits the star Polaris.”
Just because a comet is close enough to be visible doesn’t mean it’s the easiest to see in the night sky, says Jensen. He said several factors contribute to a successful sighting.
First, he suggests leaving the city and away from the lights, noting that the darker the better. If people are heading out of town, Jensen recommends dressing warmly, saying winter comet viewing isn’t for the “faint of heart.”
Second, although it may be possible to see the comet with the naked eye, he suggests bringing binoculars to increase the chances of people. It is recommended that you check the star chart before setting off to obtain
Finally, even if all that is accomplished, Jensen states that people will have to contend with the moonlight because it is close to full moon.
“I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from going to see it, but there will certainly be some hurdles to overcome to be able to find it for yourself.”
He said there are many online resources for finding digital views if people don’t want to go out and see them.
– Using files from Michael Lee from CTV News