Where to see the ‘Green Comet’ in Northern Nevada

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 4:57 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Discovered only last year by scientists at the Caltech Observatory in San Diego, the “Green Comet” as it is known hasn’t be in the earth’s view for 50,000 years.

Its green color comes from the comet’s makeup along with ultra violet light from the sun shining on the comet’s molecular structure which is carbon-based.

“The greenish glow that we see that is produced by diatomic carbon,” says Paul McFarlane, Director of the Fleischmann Planetarium. “And when that diatomic carbon split up ultraviolet light from our sun, we can see that greenish glow. So, it is kinda cool. And we can tell more about its composition that is goes back to the days of the early solar system, or it may have been captured from another solar system.”

McFarlane says don’t expect a big tail. The comet will look very faint, with a round fuzzy glow, kind of like a hazy cotton ball. The image, he says, will not be crisp or have a bright pin-point light which stars produce.

With the help of the planetarium McFarlane displays the night sky, and just where to look to locate the comet with a pair of binoculars. Look to the north sky he says, locate the big dipper. To the left the little dipper. The end of the Little Dipper’s handle will point to the area where you can find the “Green Comet”.

“I think binoculars are a great way to try and see this particular comet,” says McFarlane. “Because they have a large field of view and you can move them around in the area where you know it is going to be. And after a while I was able to see that fuzzy globe of light. Not real bright, dim. So, we have to adjust our expectations.”

McFarlane says if you miss this week’s viewing of the comet, he hopes to take the telescopes out on Friday February 10, 2022 after the 7:30pm showing. That’s when the comet will be illuminated by Mars.