The Green Comet passes tonight and everyone is talking about it. There are many topics that are coming out about this comet: when it will pass, where it will pass, how to see it avoiding light pollution, which craters have impacted the Earth… But what if we miss it? When will be the next time we can see a comet of these characteristics?
Unfortunately, there is no good news for comet fans. One reason why the passage of this celestial body is so relevant is that it has not been seen since 50,000 years ago, since it is the only comet of this style that has passed through the solar system since then.
But when will we see the next big comet? Unfortunately, as NASA explains in a report collected by NCB, “comets are too unpredictable” and we do not know for sure when we will be facing a phenomenon of this style. But in recent decades we have seen a few, so it would not be so strange.
The last of the large comets to pass close to Earth was the so-called C/2020, which passed through perihelion on July 3, 2020. But to see this one we had to wait seven years since the previous one, ISON, which was discovered on September 21, 2012 by two amateur astronomers in Russia.
In 2007 the previous one was discovered, the so-called Comet McNaught. And it was not until 10 years earlier, in 1997, that we saw a large comet pass by. This was Comet Hale-Bopp, and it came only one year after (1996) Comet Hyakutake.
Doing a quick calculation, we have been able to see six large comets in 27 years, almost three decades. Therefore, surely sooner rather than later in everyone’s lifetime we will be able to see some more. But, as we said, it is too unpredictable for today’s astronomers, so it is not an exact science.
The only one we can be sure of is Halley’s Comet, the most popular celestial body that passes by every 75 years on average. It was last seen in 1986, and the next one is expected in 2061. Will we still be alive by then? Who knows. Maybe we’ll all be dominated by Artificial Intelligence by then.