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SPACE

Why is the C/2022 E3 (ZTF) comet green? What does the comet’s name code represent?

The space-faring rock will speed past the Earth for the first time in 50,000 years and will be visible tonight, February 1st.

Update:
Why is the C/2022 E3 (ZTF) comet green? What does the comet’s name code represent?
HANDOUTvia REUTERS

The C/2022 E3 (ZTF) comet, catchy name I know, will soon be visible in the night sky. It is expected to be visible on 1 February, 2023, passing within 28 million miles. It doesn’t sound close but it’s actually the closest it has travelled to our planet for 50,000 years. For a bit of context humans were still hunter-gatherers then as well as living with neanderthals.

Comet spotters will be looking out for a key marker of the rock; its green colour. This is likely due to the presence of diatomic carbon. Due to a number of complex scientific actions the head of the comet appears green due to the presence of this, but the tail doesn’t.

You can watch the live webcast of the comet beginning at 11:00 p.m. EST on As USA.

What does the comet’s name code represent?

  • The “C” indicates a non-periodic comet. This means it takes more than 200 years to orbit the sun.
  • “2022″ marks the year discovered.
  • “E3″ shows it was the third comet discovered in the fifth half-month (F is the other half-month of march).
  • ZTF stands for Zwicky Transient Facility as this was the observatory the comet was first discovered at.