The Neanderthal comet is closer and on February 1st it will reach its minimum distance from the Earth just as it did 50,000 years ago, when man's old cousins were still there.
Impossible to say if at the time any of them could admire it with the naked eye, certainly this time being able to do so will be almost impossible and to observe it, even from the darkest areas, binoculars will be necessary, astronomer Elena Mazzotta tells ANSA Epifani, of the National Institute of Astrophysics (Inaf).
The passage of the comet, called ZTF (C/2022 E3), is also constantly followed by the great astronomical observatories of the Northern Hemisphere because it can tell a lot both about the origin of our Solar System and about the way in which different planetary systems were born. from ours.
Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF), photographed on January 9 by Dave Eagle (source: Dave Eagle, Raunds, UK)
"Most likely the comet will not be visible to the naked eye even from the darkest places and far from the lights of large population centers," says the astronomer.
In fact, the spoilsport is the Moon, which with its light prevents the passage of the comet from being clearly seen.
"Even from the darkest areas, therefore, it will be possible to observe the comet with good binoculars".
C/2022 E3 is a very ancient comet, which comes from the confines of our planetary system and which visited the Earth only once, 50,000 years ago: "such rare visitors are very important because they tell us about its origins";
can "tell us many things about what the Solar System was like at the beginning of its formation, but also about how solar systems are born, since now we know that there is not only ours", observes the researcher, who is among the experts who at 21.00 on 30 January will comment on the arrival of the comet in the event organized by EduINAF, the INAF's online didactic and dissemination magazine.
During the live broadcast, the telescopes of all INAF offices in Italy will be aimed at comet C/2022 E3 (Ztf), including those of Asiago and the Galileo National Telescope, in the Canary Islands.