Green comet over NRW – when can I see it?

  • Maximilian Jang

    iphoneMaximilian Jang


Comet C/2022 E3 was discovered last year. Now you can also see it from Earth, with a little luck even with the naked eye.

Cologne – When a comet is visible from Earth, it’s not just a special event for astronomers: many celestial bodies are close enough to learn about it once every millennium. This is also the case with comet C/2022 E3, which will also be visible close to NRW – even without a high-tech telescope.

According to calculations, the comet was last in a similar proximity 50,000 years ago, when Neanderthals were still living on Earth. What makes for a particularly picturesque sight: The comet appears green and, with a bit of luck, can also be seen with the naked eye.

  • when Can you do that comets best vision? – Mid to late January
  • Woo Can i do that comets best vision? – Important: A place with little light, so it is preferable outside of big cities and from heights
  • Father if Do you comet Laurel not visible anymore? – In mid-February

NRW’s Green Comet: This is how you see it

The comet will also be visible in North Rhine-Westphalia: “It doesn’t really matter where you are in Germany or even where you are in central Europe,” Sven Melchert from eV Friends of the Stars Association explains to 24RHEIN. But even if the area is irrelevant to visibility, the exact location is not: Cities with their own lights are less conducive to viewing because of the brighter skies. This means that hikes and areas that are a bit off the beaten track in the big cities are ideal. In rural areas such as Sauerland or in the Lower Rhine, the comet can certainly be easily seen in the sky.

Good weather is important: “Of course, this only works when the sky is clear, so if you can see the stars, then a comet will work, too,” says Melchert. “But you have to say: This is not a great comet like, say, the Neowise comet from summer 2020.” Comet photographer Michael Jagger describes it similarly to Frankfurter Rundschau: “The comet is only visible under a dark mountain sky, from urban areas you need a small telescope anyway.” But the orb has another special feature: it glows green.

Why is the comet green?

Comets can appear in different colors to the human eye. The color is determined by the chemical elements that make up the glowing celestial body. The high iron content in the rock, for example, creates a yellowish light. High in calcium makes the fireball appear purple.

The green comet’s green flash comes from a dicarbon molecule. If a comet approaches the Sun, ultraviolet radiation ensures the destruction of compounds mixed with ice and dust. The resulting carbon dioxide then diffuses into the comet’s gas envelope. The haze surrounding the comet appears green in sunlight.

The fact that the comet can currently only be seen in mountainous regions without a telescope is also due to the fact that light pollution in the sky is increasing more and more, according to a study by scientists from Europe and North America, including Christopher Kyba of the Ruhr-University of Bochum. According to the researchers, the skies over Europe are getting brighter by 6.5 percent each year. As a result, people can see fewer and fewer stars in the sky. The same applies to celestial bodies such as the green comet.

What do you need to see a green comet?

With standard binoculars, the comet is visible almost all the time. Even a simple telescope helps. Towards the end of January, with a bit of luck, the orb can be seen with the naked eye.

Green comet: when is the best time to observe?

“The best time to see begins after mid-January, when the comet is brighter than mag 7 and the waning moon makes the sky less bright,” explains the Max Planck Institute’s House of Astronomy. The abbreviation “mag” stands for “Magnitudo,” the measure of brightness. Unity is negatively related to brightness, so the lower the mag value, the brighter the object you’re pointing at will appear.

The optimal time for observation is likely to be shortly before the end of January. The comet will then have nearly reached its maximum at about mag 5.5. For comparison: under good conditions, stars with a brightness of six mag are barely visible to the naked eye as points of light. The comet is located near the north celestial pole at the end of January, and thus can be seen all night, according to the Astronomy House.

One important aspect to see: moonlight. Therefore, there is another very useful phenomenon for astronomy lovers: because the moon sets at the end of January in the second half of the night. With a bit of luck, this will guarantee particularly stunning images of the green comet.

The green comet is also visible to the naked eye

“The maximum brightness of mag 5.5 is quite remarkable for a comet, and you might even be able to see it with the naked eye under very dark skies,” the institute explains. But you need to know exactly where in the sky to find it. Locator cards can help with this.

But if you missed your period at the end of January, you still have a chance. Particularly in the second week of February, those who decide late can still try: C/2022 E3 still has about 6 mag. This means that the comet can still be seen until mid-February – albeit only with the help of: “After that, the brightness of comets is only like 7 and its time as a binocular comet approaches,” explains the House of Astronomy. About a year passed from the first discovery to disappearance in the vastness of the universe.

Astronomy: The green comet will be discovered for the first time in 2022

On March 2, 2022, the transiting comet C/2022 E3 was detected by the Zwicky facility for the first time, according to a statement from the Max Planck Institute’s Astronomy House. Accordingly, the celestial body bears the abbreviation “ZTF”. At this point, the ZTF was still 4.3 astronomical units (AU) from Earth.

Comet c/2022 E3
discovery time March 2, 2022
explorer Zwicky Transit Facility at Palomar Observatorium
Shortest distance to the sun (perihelion) 1,112 amps
inclination of the orbital plane 109.2 grad
orbit type hyperbolic

The AU corresponds to the average distance between the Earth and the Sun – about 150 million km. By February 1st, the orb will have already traveled a great distance. With a distance of 0.28 AU (about 42 million km) it then reaches the smallest distance to Earth. (mg) Fair and independent information about what is happening in NRW – here is our free information 24RHEIN- Newsletter participation in.

Rules list: © Alan Dyer / dpa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *