Do you want to see a comet with your own eyes? Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will pass very close to us between February 1 and 2, leaving behind a characteristic green trail. If you couldn’t see it in person, don’t worry, since you can use the Sky Map app to follow its trajectory through your mobile.
With the “arrival” of this type of celestial body, many will wonder if a comet, an asteroid and a meteorite are the same. Can they be called interchangeably? The short answer is: no, they are not the same. the long answer? We give it to you below.
The differences of the three astronomical objects
The celestial bodies that have starred in so many end-of-the-world movies usually have almost the same elements: ice, rock, and dust. Fortunately, most of them do not usually cross the Earth thanks to the gravity of other major planets in the Solar System, such as Jupiter.
However, some astronomical objects enter the Earth’s atmosphere, where they are usually disintegrated by friction with the air. When their size, the elements that compose them or other reasons allow them to “survive” the friction and end up reaching the surface of our planet, they are known as meteorites.
Without the need for them to hit our beloved Earth (or for Bruce Willis to sacrifice himself for all of us), we encounter asteroids. Large solid masses composed of rock and metal (so the heat of the Sun does not affect them), which can measure hundreds of kilometers in diameter or just a few meters.
Finally, we have comets. They are celestial bodies that formed in the confines of our Solar System and whose components: ice, rock, dust and organic compounds, end up sublimating as they approach the Sun, forming their unmistakable tails. Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is very characteristic, since it is surrounded by a green halo.
How can I see the comet, and do I have to worry about the brightness?
Next February 1 will be the day the comet is at its closest point to Earth. This will happen around 7:11 pm in Spain (peninsular time).
As for the brightness that the comet will give off, there will be no need to worry. NASA has reported that the star can be observed with the naked eye without the need to use other gadgets. When we have chosen a point to see the comet, it is convenient to wait for half an hour for our eyes to adapt to the light.
To get the best possible glimpse of the comet, you will first need to have a pair of binoculars or, instead, a small telescope. You should 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 easily identify it.