The only chance you’ll ever see the Green Comet – and Western University can help

Content item

Forget about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Advertisement 2

Content item

Think once in more than 600 lifetimes.

Content item

On Saturday, Londoners will have the best chance they’ll get to see Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) pass by Earth — something it did last 50,000 years ago — when Western University will open the doors of its observatory for astronomy enthusiasts to admire the recently discovered comet.

The “Green Comet,” as it’s better known, has been making headlines around the world for two main reasons: The green glow it emits as it travels and how close to Earth it is flying.

“It’s passing relatively close to the Earth, not dangerously close by any means, but closer than they usually do, and that makes it a little bit brighter,” said Paul Wiegert, a physics and astronomy professor at Western University.

Advertisement 3

Content item

“We’re still talking about tens of millions of kilometers of distance. It’s still very far away in all real terms, but because space is big, most comes actually pass much further away than that.”

The comet was first spotted last March by astronomers at the Zwicky Transient Facility at the Palomar Observatory in California.

The fact the comet was only recently discovered stems from the fact that while comets orbit the sun the same way planets do, their paths “sometimes take them close to the sun and other times take them much further away where they’re very, very difficult to see,” Wiegert said.

“It’s also a great example of how there’s still so much to learn and discover out in space,” he said.

Wiegert and a team of scientists at Western will monitor the path and brightness of the comet in the coming days as it swings by the planet.

Advertisement 4

Content item

Wiegert will also host Saturday’s viewing party at Western’s Hume Cronyn Memorial Observatory. The event is free, open to the public and will include a presentation about comets.

Though the green comet will be flying close to Earth, it won’t be visible to the naked eye and will require people to use at least binoculars or a small telescope, Wiegert said.

A cloudless sky will also be needed to admire it, he added.

“When we have a new comet, sometimes it’s more easily visible from the southern hemisphere than from the north,” he said.

“But for this particular one, we’re lucky in Canada that it is passing through the northern sky and easily visible here.”


What: Green Comet viewing party

When: Saturday, 7-9 p.m.

Where: Western University’s Hume Cronyn Memorial Observatory

Cost: Free

  1. Peter Visscher, general manager of the Canadensys Aerospace Corp. facility in Stratford, is part of team building a lunar rover expected to land on the moon in 2026. Photograph taken on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. Mike Hensen/The London Free Press

    Moon shot: Area company on a mission to build lunar rover

  2. A fireball is shown Friday night shooting through the sky over Chatham in this screengrab from a video made public by Western University astronomy professor Peter Brown. That's it, near the bottom left of the frame.

    SEE IT: Speeding fireball shoots through sky over Chatham

    Advertisement 1


    Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

    Leave a Comment

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