Green comet viewing party to be held in Rio Rancho Wednesday evening

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – If you look up at the night sky Wednesday night and see a green light, your first thought might be aliens. Don’t worry, we are not being invaded, but we are getting a visitor from the far reaches of our solar system – a comet! 

Astronomers out in California discovered this celestial body in March 2022 and named it.

“Comet 2022/e3 ZTF, more commonly known as the green comet,” said Jim Greenhouse, space science director at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

He explains comets are big balls of ice flying through space, but every comet is a little different, and it’s very unique for a comet to glow green. 

“The comet is green because there is a lot of carbon in it and any time carbon gets hit by radiation of the sun it starts to break down, and actually starts to glow that green color,” Greenhouse explained. 

But you won’t be able to see the green glow of the comet with your naked eye, or even a telescope. You need to take a time-lapse photo to get the full effect. 

But, if you still want to see the comet passing through our night sky, your best bet to see it is Wednesday to Friday night, just after sunset. That is when the comet will make its closest pass by Earth, more than 26 million miles away. 

“Even though there is a possibility to see it in the sky and people have seen it through binoculars and telescopes, it never got as bright as some of the predictions. So it’s a little bit disappointing, but getting any comet you can see through binoculars is pretty rare, so seeing any comet in the sky at all is an exciting event,” Greenhouse said 

If you want to try your luck and see the comet, the Natural History Museum and the Rio Rancho Astronomy Association are hosting a comet viewing party Wednesday night at the Rainbow Park Observatory from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. They will provide binoculars and telescopes for whoever wants to try and see the comet.