Having traveled from a place in the solar system that scientists only theoretically think exists, the Green Comet is making its closest pass to Earth Wednesday night and the skies are looking clear enough for Adler Planetarium to host a virtual viewing party.
Tune in to the Adler’s Sky Observers Hangout at 9 p.m., live from the Doane Observatory. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to catch a glimpse of the faint, fuzzy smear of light that hasn’t been seen in 50,000 years and quite possibly may never come around again.
Though hyped as a “naked eye” comet, the Green Comet — technical name C/2022 E3 (ZTF) — is really only visible with binoculars or a telescope. It’s still, at its “closest,” 26 million miles away and the moon’s glow is interfering with the view.
For those who want to scope out the comet on their own, the Adler has a map of where to look.
You better believe it, Chicago! Looks like there will be clear skies for viewing the #GreenComet during its closest point to Earth on 2/1 when it will be brightest for us to see.
Use this map as a reference for how to find the comet each night until it’s gone! #CometC2022E3 pic.twitter.com/FuKWKtaJeb
— AdlerPlanet (@AdlerPlanet) January 30, 2023
Joe Guzman, the Chicago Astronomer, has been on the hunt for the comet in recent days and tells sky watchers to sweep the area between the North Star (Polaris) and “the bucket of the Big Dipper.” Guzman has been rewarded with multiple sightings, including early Wednesday morning and managed to capture the moment with an 18mm lens.
His advice to amateur observers: adjust expectations.
“Comets do not zip through the sky, but travel slowly across the background of stars over days, weeks and months,” Guzman shared with his followers on social media.
Images showing a blazing green ball streaking through space are time exposures through telescopes, he said, teasing out details the eye can’t grasp.
Read More: Rare Green Comet May Soon Be Visible with Naked Eye
None of which should dim the enthusiasm for this distant visitor, said Tom Prince, one of the scientists who discovered it: “Comets such as this are messengers from the outermost reaches of our solar system.”
Greetings from Earth.
Contact Patty Wetli: @pattywetli | (773) 509-5623 | [email protected]