Published: Wed 25 Jan 2023, 1:25 PM
Last updated: Wed 25 Jan 2023, 2:28 PM
A comet that is passing by the Earth for the first time in 50,000 years has been photographed by the Dubai Astronomy group. The once in a lifetime Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was captured at Al Thuraya Astronomy Center on January 20.
Captured between 4am and 6am, the dust tail and ionic tail are clearly seen in the images captured by the astronomy group.
The group also captured a video of the comet’s movement across the sky:
UAE residents will get an opportunity to see the comet in the next few weeks. It is expected to pass closest to Earth on February 1, 2023, at a distance of around 26 million miles. It will be equally visible till the 5th of Feb.
According to the CEO of Dubai Astronomy Group Hasan Al Hariri, although comet brightness can be difficult to predict, the celestial body can be easily spotted using binoculars and small telescopes around January and early February.
Dubai Astronomy Group will host a special ticketed event on February 4, 2023, at the Al Qudra desert in Dubai from 6.30pm to 9.30pm that will spot deep sky objects like the comet, moon, Mars and Jupiter among others. The trip will also include astrophotography sessions, sky mapping and more.
Dubai residents can also spot the comet from their homes or open grounds using special equipment.“The best tools to observe the comet are binoculars,” said Hasan Al Hariri.“It has a wide-angle field of view of the sky so hunting down the comet becomes much easier than using a telescope because that has a narrow-angle field of view which makes it harder to locate the comet.”
Comets are icy bodies of frozen gases, rocks, and dust left over from the formation of the solar system about 4.6 billion years ago. But when they approach the sun and heat up, they become powerful cosmic objects, spewing gases and dust in a way that forms their iconic shape: a glowing core and flame-like tail that can stretch on for millions of miles.
Comets are named according to how and when they were originally observed. This particular comet’s name encodes such information:
● The letter C means the comet is not periodic (it will only pass through the Solar System once or may take more than 200 years to orbit the Sun);
● 2022 E3 indicates that the comet was spotted in early March 2022 and was the 3rd such object discovered in the same period;
● ZTF means the discovery was made using telescopes of the Zwicky Transient Facility.
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