Last glimpse of comet that you won’t be able to see for another 50,000 years
Nearly two weeks after the famous rare green comet made its closest approach to Earth, it’s been spotted from space in a final farewell.
A Japanese satellite, EQUULEUS, took a video of Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) last week.
The comet, which last made an appearance when Neanderthals were still roaming the Earth, appears as a fuzzy white dot shooting across a star-studded black-and-white background in the video shared on Twitter by the satellite team.
‘EQUULEUS successfully photographed Comet ZTF (Comet C/2022 E3) from space!’ said the tweet accompanying the image sequence shared on Tuesday.
‘These series of images were taken by calculating the timing and direction from the relative orbits of the comet and EQUULEUS,’
The 6U cubesat , built by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the University of Tokyo, imaged the comet for six hours on 12 February.
At the time, the satellite was about 69.5 million kilometres from the comet and 340,000 km from Earth.
Last November, EQUULEUS was launched aboard Nasa’s Artemis 1 mission and is currently sailing toward the Lunar Lagrange point 2, a gravitationally stable point in the Earth-moon system, which is about 61,347 km behind the moon.
The comet – called E3 for short – with its distinctive green coma (the cloud of gas surrounding the icy rock core), passed around the sun in early January and was now on its way back out to space.
It reached its brightest around February 1, its closest approach to Earth as it swings out of the solar system after its orbit around the sun.
Identified last year, the comet last blazed overhead 50,000 years ago and astronomers say it’ll never be seen above Earth again.
At its closest, it came within roughly 26 million miles of the earth. That’s equivalent to more than 109 times the average distance between the Earth and the moon.
Avid skywatchers took advantage of the fact that the E3 could be seen with the naked eye and shared their images on social media.
In the UK, the comet appeared for the first time over Stonehenge. The last time the space rock was visible from Earth was around 50,000 years ago, long before the stone circle was built.
MORE : Last chance to see the green comet that won’t visit for another 50,000 years
MORE : ‘Neanderthal’ comet is now visible and will get brighter over next two weeks
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