The green comet reaches nearest point to earth: How to see it in Cincinnati
It’s the first time this comet has crossed our path in 50,000 years.
Livestream courtesy of The Virtual Telescope Project, part of the Bellatrix Astronomical Observatory, and astrophysicist Gianluca Masi, PhD.
CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A rare green glowing object will soon be visible across Greater Cincinnati for the second time in as many days.
Through partly cloudy Tri-State skies Wednesday night, the newly discovered comet—charmingly dubbed “C/2022 E3 (ZTF)”—will appear to the naked eye as a blurry green smudge with a streaking hoary tail.
It’s the first time we humans will glimpse the comet. The last time it graced earth’s night sky was likely around 50,000 years ago, when the Neanderthals were plodding through the Stone Age. (Though in fact, as NPR reports, NASA’s best aren’t even sure the comet has ever come into our solar system.)
The comet is returning from its perihelion, or its closest brush with the sun. On Jan. 12, it passed within 100 million miles of our star, according to space.com.
It spent the rest of January earthbound and has technically been visible to amateur astronomers for several days. But Wednesday night and Thursday night, it will be as close as 26 million miles from earth.
How close is that? It’s a little over a quarter as far as the sun is from the earth... but more than 100 times as far away as the moon.
No matter: That’s when the comet will be at its brightest.
Afterward, its glow will recede as it slouches its way toward our outer solar system, not to be seen again for another 50,000 years (and by eyes that could belong to an entirely different species.)
Where and when to look
As the comet approaches, it will cross near Polaris, the North Star.
By Wednesday night, it will have taken up residence around 50 degrees over the northern horizon in the Camelopardalis constellation, an area of sky mostly empty of bright stars. [Plug “Cincinnati” in the sky map here]
It’ll be at its highest point in the sky—about 58 degrees over the northern horizon—at 9:46 p.m. ET. Wednesday.
The comet will diminish toward the southern horizon as it moves away from the earth over the following days.
It will sit next to Capella, a bright star in the Auriga constellation, on Sunday, Feb. 5.
Keep in mind: Viewing is best once the moon sets after midnight. Also, though the comet might be visible to the naked eye, you’ll want a pair of binoculars or a telescope for the best viewing experience.
Local weather forecast
Unfortunately for Tri-State stargazers, Wednesday night’s forecast calls for moderate cloud that could frustrate attempts to descry the pale green dot.
But the 10-day looks far more promising, and remember, the comet will be visible in the night sky, if less brightly, into the second week of the month.
Friday night and Monday night look to be your best bet, with cloud cover at a minimum both days. Monday night will have the extra benefit of a 38-degree low, as compared to Friday’s overnight low of 16.
See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Please include the title when you click here to report it.
Copyright 2023 WXIX. All rights reserved.