WATCH ABOVE: The green comet hasn’t been seen since the caveman days of swinging by Earth

Approaching Comet
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Depending on the weather, Tuesday morning may be your best viewing opportunity.

Near the comet
This image by Dan Bartlett shows Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) on December 19, 2022. It was last seen in Neanderthal times, according to NASA. (Dan Bartlett via AP)

A green comet that didn’t happen Woolly mammoths and Neanderthals have been seen since they walked the earth This winter is passing us by. Don’t miss your chance to see it.

Depending on the weather, Tuesday morning may be your best viewing opportunity.

Michael Kelly, a research scientist at the University of Maryland’s Department of Astronomy, told WTOP that early morning is when comets are most visible in their sky. It appears quite close to the North Star. But if you’re a night owl, late-week evenings will be more favorable to watch it.

Kelly says if you have binoculars or a telescope, move outside the city where there is minimal light pollution. The best chance to see the comet will depend on the cloud cover.

“It’s really fun to see a comet for yourself if you have that opportunity. Hopefully, we’ll have some clear skies and everyone can give it a try,” Kelly said.

The green comet has not been near Earth for about 50,000 years. Its orbit takes it to the Oort cloud, the very edge of our solar system.

“It’s interesting to think about how old these objects are, how old the Earth is, how old all those parts of our solar system are,” Kelly said. “We’re a small part of it.”

Right now, it’s traveling at about 90,000 miles per hour, about a third of the distance from Earth to the Sun. The moon is about a hundred times closer. But still, Kelly told WTOP that not many Oort clouds have come this close, and this particular one may never come close to Earth again.

“Every time these Oort Cloud comets come into the inner solar system, the planets have a chance to push them around or pull them closer to them with gravity. And this one, in particular, may never come back, there’s a small chance that it’s gone out of the solar system,” Kelly said.

Although you can’t see the comet’s green color with the naked eye or even with binoculars, amateur astronomers have captured dazzling images of its emerald glow.

Kelly liked to come across a “big space snowball” made of dust and ice. The ice turns to gas, forming a cloud of gas around the comet, called a coma.

“This beautiful green color comes from the gas around the comet,” Kelly said.

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