Passing by us for the first time in over 50,000 years, the comet doesn’t look all that spectacular to the naked eye. This is why it’s still really clean.
Sunshine Coast photographers took advantage of the clear skies of January 29 to The newest comet in our sky.
Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF, discovered in March 2022, is much smaller than the comet, says our astronomy columnist Richard Corbett Magnificent Neowise “The maximum size, including the tail too faint to see, is less than 1 degree about the width of a fingernail at arm’s length.”
A naked eye observer might be disappointed by the rather faint ZTF glowing green, but binoculars help enhance the experience.
Why doesn’t it look like the photo?
However, even with binoculars, the comet is not visible to observers as it is in these pictures.
“Any camera that can capture this comet does so by taking long exposures, accumulating images over a few seconds, and saving the total,” Corbett said. “In contrast, the human eye works like a movie camera: the combination of the eye and the brain updates that ‘image’ many times every second, effectively making many short exposures.” . “
result? “None of these short exposures can capture the faintest bits that long exposure cameras can,” he said.
think of insignificance
Comet ZTF may have never been this close before, and may never be, Corbett said. “It’s coming from so far away that any slight interaction there could send it out of our solar system and into interstellar space.
“It’s like looking at the Andromeda galaxy — it’s faint to the naked eye. That faint blur we see is another galaxy, slightly larger than ours. The photons that inspire have traveled the universe for two million years, and they left before Homo sapiens evolved.
“With Binock and a little effort, we can see other galaxies near the Andromeda star Spica, one of which is much larger than our own, about 80 million light-years away. The galaxy can be seen via photons leaving the era when the dominant life forms on this planet were the dinosaurs.
“I think all of these activities are very helpful in reminding us of our importance to the universe.”
Comet ZTF is still visible
For those looking to spot the comet, it’s still visible, Corbett said, “despite the dreaded cloud cover.”
BBC’s Sky at Night Magazine There are charts showing the paths of comets in February and March. On February 1, it should be closest to Earth, “about 0.284 AU, or about 26 million miles away.”
This is about a quarter of the distance between us and the Sun. The ZTF should pass very close to Mars around February 11, Corbet said.
> Have you taken any pictures of the comet? I would like to share them with our readers! Send it to [email protected] with the subject line “comet photo”. Please be sure to let us know the name of the photographer and where and when the photo was taken.