That green comet that everyone has been talking about for the past few weeks will make its closest approach to Earth this week. And a local astronomer says you may even be able to see it with our naked eye.
Comet C-2022 E3 last visited our planet some 50,000 years ago and probably won’t return for millions of years.
It will come within 26 million miles of Earth on Wednesday before speeding away again.
But Central Oregon Community College astronomy instructor Bob Grossfeld says even though the comet is making its closest approach this week, this may not be the best time to see it.
“You don’t really need a telescope. You can actually see it with binoculars. Hopefully it will get bright enough that we can all see it naked eye,” Grossfeld said. “But we’re not there yet, so we should know in the next week or so. “However, right now we have a lot of moonlight. So I do think in about a week or so it’s going to get a little better opportunity. And also going out later in the evening is a lot better than during early in the evening.”
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Grossfeld said there will still be opportunities over the next few weeks to see the comet.
But as Billy Bob Thornton aptly said in “Armageddon,” it’s a really big sky. So where do you look?
“You have to be in a place where you can see the northern part of the sky. So if you can find the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper, then you should be able to see (the comet) in between the two,” said Grossfeld.
And, of course, do your best to get away from light sources, so head east or west of the city.
Now, the other big question. Why is it green?
“The green has to do with the carbon material inside the core of a comet. As the comet gets closer to the sun, it gets excited because it gets heated up,” said Grossfeld. “And so we see this tail created and the green color of the nucleus of the comet. So not unusual, but it is kind of cool to see it. It’s got a very narrow, long tail on it, which is kind of cool compared to some of the other comets we’ve seen.”