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‘Green Comet’ Spotted From Area Observatory

The Green Comet, known as C/2022 E3, is seen in the night sky over Warren County. The comet is making a rare appearance — once every 50,000 years or so. Its closest approach was Wednesday and Thursday, but it will continue to be visible, possibly even to the naked eye, for several days. It can generally be found south of the Big Dipper. Photo by Dave Wilkins

FREWSBURG — Local astronomers and astro-photographers are among those tracking an uncommon visitor.

The Green Comet — C/2022 E3 — made its closest to approach to Earth in 50,000 years on Wednesday. It is now heading away from Earth is unlikely to be in the neighborhood again for millions of years, according to the Associated Press.

The event was captured locally by astro-photographer Dave Wilkins and through the telescopes at Martz-Kohl Observatory.

The comet was first detected in March 2022 and is best seen with binoculars or telescopes. It may be detectable to the naked eye under the right conditions.

“The average person will not be able to discern the color as the comet is too faint for our color receptors in the eye,” Observatory Board Member Tom Traub said. “Instead, the comet will appear as a very faint, softly-glowing ball of light to the unaided eye with more detail visible in binoculars or small telescopes.”

There was a recent viewing event at the Frewsburg observatory and could be another if skies permit.

“We had a public night at the observatory to view the comet with over 150 attending,” Traub said. “If conditions are clear the observatory will be open tomorrow (Saturday) to the public after 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. to view through the Kohl 20-inch telescope.”

It is located in the northern sky, south of the Big Dipper. For now, it is a green spot near the North Star – Polaris.

“Currently, the comet is moving southward each night as it continues its journey back into the depths of space,” Traub said. “Right now, the almost-full moon is adding a lot of background light that is making it hard to see the dust and gas tails.”

The green color is caused by cyanogen gas, Traub said.

By Feb. 10, it will be near Mars — a good landmark for finding it, according to the Associated Press.

The comet is a good one in terms of visibility.

“This one seems probably a little bit bigger and therefore a little bit brighter and it’s coming a little bit closer to the Earth’s orbit,” NASA’s Paul Chodas said.

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