Last chance to see the green Comet Tswicki after 50,000 years [우주를 보다]

▲ Comet Tswicky swimming between the two comets Ursa Major (Big Dipper) and Ursa Minor (Photo/Petr Horalek / Institute of Physics in Opava)

A golden opportunity has come to see the green Comet Zwicky (C/2022 E3:ZTF) for the first time since Neanderthals saw it 50,000 years ago.

This weekend the comet will pass close to Mars in Taurus, which is easy to see with binoculars aimed at it.

Comet ZTF has passed perihelion and perigee, its closest approach to the Sun and Earth, and is now on its way out of the Solar System.

▲ The path of Comet Zwicky.

The comet appears near the red planet Mars from February 10th to February 15th and begins to approach the constellations of Orion and Eridanus. These days, Mars is near Aldebaran, the alpha star of Taurus, high in the night sky about an hour after sunset, making it a good indicator for early evening comet hunting.

Mars is also an excellent reference point to find “messengers from the far reaches of our solar system.” Throughout February, the brightness of Mars varies between -0.2 and +0.4 magnitude, so it is not too difficult to see in most areas without significant light pollution.

▲ Tswicky’s Comet Destination this weekend (Source / Starry Night Software)

Venus and Jupiter are also easy to see in the early evening sky. Venus, the brightest planet in the night sky in February, has long been called dog food in Korea when it is the night star. Dog food baragi means dog food bowl. When Venus rises in the night sky, it means it’s time to feed the dog.

Beyond this weekend, the comet will dim as it moves away from Earth, making it difficult for the public to find. Even if Comet Zwicky is fading, there is still time to see it if you know when and where to look.

Lee Kwang-sik, science columnist

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