Watch: Comet seen only once in 50,000 years spotted today in Abu Dhabi

Residents who may have missed the sight earlier today still have the opportunity to catch it — here's how

by

Nasreen Abdulla

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

 

Photo by Muhammad Odeh, Anas Muhammad and Osama Ghannam. Filmed remotely through the Internet — IAC
Photo by Muhammad Odeh, Anas Muhammad and Osama Ghannam. Filmed remotely through the Internet — IAC

Published: Sat 14 Jan 2023, 9:26 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Feb 2023, 3:26 PM

A once-in-a-lifetime comet from the outer solar system was reportedly spotted from the Abu Dhabi desert at dawn on Saturday, according to the International Astronomy Centre (IAC).

According to the centre's tweet, Comet 2022 E3 (ZTF) appeared as a speck that shined at magnitude 6.5 with a dust tail. Its ionic tail was seen opposite the sun at 307 degrees. Scroll up to see a snap of the comet captured from the IAC's Al Khatim Observatory.


The celestial object is passing by Earth for the first time in 50,000 years. Nasa had earlier said that the comet was expected to be closest to the sun on January 12.

UAE residents who may have missed the sight earlier today still have the opportunity to catch it, especially when it hits its closest point to Earth on February 1. It will be equally visible until February 5, experts said.


Dubai Astronomy Group CEO Hasan Al Hariri says comet brightness can be difficult to predict but even if it does not brighten enough to be seen with the naked eye, it will still be viewable with binoculars and small telescopes around January and early February.

Here's a video of the comet's movement captured from the UAE sky on Saturday, from 5.01am to 5.36am.

Viewing

The DAG will host a special ticketed event on February 4 on Al Qudra desert in Dubai from 6.30pm to 9.30pm. It will include comet, Moon, Mars, Jupiter, and deep sky objects telescope observations, astrophotography sessions, sky mapping and more.

Those who wish to observe the celestial body from their homes can do so with special equipment. “The best tools to observe the comet are binoculars,” said Al Hariri. “It has a wide-angle field of view of the sky so hunting down the comet becomes much easier than using a telescope because that has a narrow-angle field of view which makes it harder to locate the comet.”

The diagram below indicates the position of the comet during this time.

The Comet

Comets are icy bodies of frozen gases, rocks, and dust left over from the formation of the solar system about 4.6 billion years ago. But when they approach the sun and heat up, they become powerful cosmic objects, spewing gases and dust in a way that forms their iconic shape: a glowing core and flame-like tail that can stretch on for millions of miles.

Comets are named according to how and when they were originally observed. This particular comet’s name encodes such information:

>> The letter C means the comet is not periodic (it will only pass through the Solar System once or may take more than 200 years to orbit the Sun);

>> 2022 E3 indicates that the comet was spotted in early March 2022 and was the 3rd such object discovered in the same period.

>> ZTF means the discovery was made using telescopes of the Zwicky Transient Facility.

ALSO READ:


More news from UAE