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UVa professor has tips for enjoying comet – and tempering expectations

The much-anticipated green comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will have made its closest approach to Earth as it passes by for the first time in 50,000 years on Thursday.

It might be a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, said University of Virginia astronomy professor Ed Murphy, but don’t expect any sort of dazzling spectacle among the stars.

“Even under dark country skies, this thing is not visible to the naked eye,” Murphy told The Daily Progress on Wednesday.

You can still see the comet, but it just might require a little help. Even a small pair of binoculars will do the trick, Murphy said, noting that “it’ll look like a tiny fuzzy ball.” To catch a glimpse of the comet’s tail, you’ll have to upgrade to a telescope or take a long-exposure photo.

There’s been local interest in the comet, and free tickets for the university’s McCormick Observatory Public Night Program on Friday have already sold out. However, missing out on C/2022 E3 (ZTF) probably isn’t worth losing too much sleep over.

“There will be other comets,” Murphy said.


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