There are only a few days left to see the green comet streaking across the skies. Between February 1 and 2 we will have the opportunity to contemplate comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF), which will “skim” our planet at almost 42 million kilometers from our atmosphere and allow us to see with our own eyes its particular green halo (if you can’t see it, you can always follow its trajectory with the Sky Map app).
Although it is a comet, not an asteroid, the fact that one of the thousands of atmospheric objects that surround us passes so close to us will surely alert more than one person and make them wonder what would happen if an asteroid were to impact our planet. Something that also worries the scientific community that, in order to prevent future catastrophes, would be studying these asteroids while they are still flying over space.
According to NCYT Amazings, a group of scientists studying the composition of the Itokawa asteroid would have completed an investigation of 3 tiny dust particles collected from the celestial body by the Habayusa 1 space probe.
The study confirms that Itokawa would be a “debris pile” (a group of stones and rocks grouped together) very resistant to collisions and difficult to destroy, forming a kind of “space cushion” that would absorb the blows it takes on its space travels.
Due to its estimated age (at least 4.2 billion years old), scientists think that many of the asteroids that populate the Solar System may be of this type, so that if any of them should at some point precipitate against the Earth, we would have the necessary data to divert its course. Something that, for the moment, will not happen with our beloved comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF).
How can I see the comet, and do I have to worry about the brightness?
Next February 1 will be the day when the comet will be at its closest point to the Earth. This will occur around 19:11 pm in Spain (peninsular time).
As for the brightness of the comet, there is no need to worry. NASA has reported that the star can be observed with the naked eye without the use of other devices. When we have chosen a spot to see the comet, it is advisable to wait for half an hour for our eyes to adapt to the light.
To get the best possible view of the comet, you will first need to have binoculars or a small telescope. Keep in mind that the best time to see it will be at dusk. The comet will leave behind an unmistakable green halo, which will help you to identify it easily.