The Rio Rancho Astronomical Society (RRAS) and museum will host a brief observing event for comet 2022 E3 (ZTF), AKA the Green Comet, during its closest approach to Earth on Wednesday, February 1 from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m., weather permitting. The comet recently brightened slightly and may be on the verge of visibility. There is too much light pollution to see the comet from the museum, but the sky is somewhat darker over Rainbow Park Observatory at 301 Southern Blvd SE, Rio Rancho, NM, so the comet should be visible from there if the sky is clear that night.
It's important to understand that the comet cannot be seen through any telescope the way it appears in some published pictures. The human eye is not sensitive enough to perceive the green glow in the coma or the fainter details of the tail in a live view, but those subtleties become visible through properly processed time-exposure photos. A group of amateur astronomers attempted to see the comet on the northern edge of the Albuquerque metro area on Jan. 28. Through binoculars and telescopes, it appears as a faint hazy area against the black of space and no tail was seen.
The observatory is located north of the pool in Rio Rancho’s Rainbow Park. If there are any clouds, especially in the northern sky, this event will be canceled. The comet is the only object the group plans to view through telescopes and binoculars during this event. RRAS offers views of planets and other objects in the sky during their public meetings on select Friday evenings; head to https://www.rrastro.org for more information. For more details about the comet, visit the museum’s public Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NMMNHS and search for #SpaceScienceSundayNM.