A 'once-in-a-lifetime' green comet will be passing by our planet this month, and may be visible to the naked eye
1 February 2023| Last updated on 3 February 2023
Stargazers and astronomy fans, plan ahead for a special night!
A rare green comet last seen around 50,000 years ago will soon be visible in the night sky above the UAE this weekend until February 10, 2023.
Named C/2022 E3 (ZTF), the comet was detected in 2022 and was last seen in our Solar System during the Stone Age, when saber-tooth tigers and large mammoths were still alive and present on Earth.
The once-in-a-lifetime event has plenty of astronomy fans and stargazers in the UAE excited, and we've compiled a quick guide covering everything you need to know so you can see the comet at the best possible time and place for you.
The comet was spotted in Abu Dhabi on January 14 early morning, according to a Khaleej Times article.
What is the C/2022 E3 (ZTF) green comet?
C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is a rare comet that flew past our planet for the first time about 50,000 years ago.
Why is the comet green?
Celestial bodies like the C/2022 E3 (ZTF) are a combination of frozen gases, rock, and dust. When they fly closer to the sun, these 'cosmic snowballs' are subject to radiation which releases debris and gas. The atmosphere surrounding the comet glows green as a result, which is why it's called a green comet.
When can I see the rare green comet from the UAE?
According to experts, the best time to catch the green comet at its brightest is in the wee hours of Thursday, February 2 between 3-5AM.
The Planetary Society said that the comet is expected to remain visible from Earth until Friday February 10.
Where can I see the green comet from the UAE?
The Dubai Astronomy Group (DAG) is also holding a comet viewing event in Al Qudra desert on February 4 from 6:30PM to 9:30PM. Activities will include sky photography classes, comet observations, talks with professional astronomers, and more. General tickets are AED 120 per person (AED 100 for children below 3 years old) or AED 70 for existing DAG members. Group transportation to and from the site is also available for AED 50.
If you're not going to the event, you can still watch the green comet in the UAE at your own pace.
Stargazing in the cities can be difficult due to light pollution, so we recommend driving out to the desert or mountains where there is less artificial light so you can have unobstructed views of the night sky. We also suggest bringing binoculars or telescopes, with binoculars as the preferred option for its wider range of view.