Video: “Neanderthal comet” reaches closest point to earth

STORY: A clear sky is the basic requirement if you want to see C/2022 E3 (ZTF). But then the comet, which last flew by the Earth in Neanderthal times 50,000 years ago, can even be seen in the sky with the naked eye. At the Kryoneri Observatory in Greece, astronomers took a closer look at the cosmic chunk of ice and rock, because the comet reached its closest point to Earth on Thursday night. Alkisti Bonanos, astronomer: “Now it is at its brightest, at a distance of 43 million kilometers.” The comet owes its green glow to unstable molecular compounds in its particle shell. There is also a delicate tail, or two at once. Alexis Liakos, astronomer: “As the comet encounters solar radiation and solar wind as it approaches the Sun, two tails are formed. The first tail is the dust tail that follows the comet’s motion. And the second tail is the ion gas tail.” The closer the comet gets to the sun’s heat, the easier it is to spot it. In addition to clouds in some parts of Europe, another celestial body is likely to disrupt the fun in the coming days. Full moon on the weekend. Its bright light makes the “green” comet pale in the night sky.


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