New comet to streak across skies before end of January

Jan 4, 2023, 2:00 PM

(Pixabay Photo)...

(Pixabay Photo)

(Pixabay Photo)

Comets are the afterbirth of the solar system and are mostly located in a large ring far out in the coldest part of the solar system known as the Oort cloud.

After the evolution of the solar system some 4.5 billion years, comets are regular visitors to the inner parts of our planetary sphere.

Many of you might think that you have seen a comet, but it is more likely that you may have witnessed a meteor shooting by in the sky.

Comets are mostly made up of small or large cores known as the nucleus. The nucleus is made up of solid rock and metals, coated with a layer of ice. In that ice, many believe that the original building blocks of life itself are still frozen on the surface of some comets.

The theory that comets may seed life onto planets is known as panspermia.

Over the many thousands of years that humans have populated the Earth, comets have always held a special interest and, for the most part, have been looked on with trepidation and fear.

Comets were thought to bring about the death of kings or be a warning sign of bad things to come.

All that has changed for the most part, as the study of comets has provided astronomers with a great wealth of information on our solar system.

Here is a detailed study on comets and what they really are and what they are made of.

Get set for a new comet coming our way!

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was discovered by a massive robotic digital telescope camera located in California. The designated telescope is known as Zwicky Transient Telescope. This is a large 605-megapixel camera which has a wide field view of the sky of some 47 degrees and can capture faint objects and other stellar or small solar system bodies.

The comet was discovered March 2, 2022, and was very faint on the discovery images.

The comet is plowing into the inner solar system and will be closest to the sun Jan. 12 by some 100 million miles. The comet is slowly brightening and is still not a naked eye object. It can be viewed with binoculars in the early morning sky.

The full wolf moon on Jan. 6 will reduce your chances of seeing it, but things get better by Jan. 20, as we approach new moon.

The best way to find the comet is to follow these detailed star maps.

I have been viewing comets for well over 50 years and I can say that there is something special about seeing these amazing objects, which sometimes can produce large tails and bright antitails of plasma.

You may have had the opportunity to view comets such as Halley’s, Comet Bennett in 1970 and the bright Comet Hale-Bopp in the late 1990s, as well as many others.

Comet Halley will not return until 2061-2062; this comet last visited the Earth and sun some 50,000 years ago.

What about other great comets in history?

Here is a link to the great comets in history and the possible effects that they had on humankind.

A comet discoverer once said, “ Comets are like cats: they have tails and they do precisely what they want.”

Hope you get to see this comet before it fades away!

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

 To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.

Podcasts are available here.

Dr. Sky Blog

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New comet to streak across skies before end of January