A green comet and Mars will appear side by side in the night sky on February 10 and 11.
There is a good chance to see the comet in the early evening, perhaps only with binoculars.
Here’s what you need to know to spot the colorful cosmic couple.
A green comet shooting over Earth for the first time since the Ice Age is about to skim right over Mars in the night sky.
The green comet and the red planet will be visible side by side across the Northern Hemisphere on the nights of February 10 and 11. The moon will stay below the horizon in the early evening, making for suitably dark skies.
All that could make it much easier to see the cosmic visitor, a frozen ball of gas and dust known as Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF), or Comet ZTF for short. Mars stands out among the stars because it glows bright and orange – easily visible to the naked eye. When you see Mars, finding the green cosmic snowball should be a breeze if it’s bright enough.
Here’s what you need to know to catch a glimpse of the rare, colorful cosmos next weekend.
How to see Mars and Comet ZTF
Mars rises high in the evening sky next weekend, and it should be easy to see near the comet long before bedtime.
In the first few hours after nightfall, get as far away from city lights as you can (safely and comfortably). At least bring binoculars — the comet may not be visible to the unaided eye.
The brightness of a comet is difficult to predict. Although clear enough for binoculars so far, a telescope may be necessary to see Comet ZTF by the time it aligns with Mars.
To find the cosmic couple, face west just after sunset and look for an orange-red point of light just to the right of the constellation Orion. That’s Mars, according to EarthSky.com. Then point your binoculars at it and look for the comet. It should be directly above Mars.
“Don’t look for a speck,” Dan Bartlett, a night sky photographer and comet enthusiast, told Insider in an email. “Look for a blur, smudge, irregular fan-shaped.”
Don’t wait until late evening, when the moon rises and the sky lightens. Check TimeandDate.com to find out when the moon will rise in your area.
The comet has disappeared from view, after passing closest to Earth on February 2. But there is still time to see it.
If you want to see the Martian comet pair from the comfort of your home, the Virtual Telescope Project plans to broadcast telescope views of the event online.
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