Home > Comet, Ephemeris Program, Observing > 01/26/2023 – Ephemeris – Where’s Comet ZTF tonight?

01/26/2023 – Ephemeris – Where’s Comet ZTF tonight?

January 26, 2023
Comet ZTF finder chart for 12:01 am, January 27, 2023, shortly after moonset (evening of the 26th). The tail rendering simply suggests the direction of the ion tail, blown away from the sun. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts), labeled with LibreOffice Draw.

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, January 27th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 36 minutes, setting at 5:44, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:06. The Moon, 1 day before first quarter, will set at 1:08 tomorrow morning.

Comet ZTF is now passing the star Kochab in the Little Dipper and is heading out to the barren wastes of Camelopardalis, the giraffe, which I’m sure not very many people have heard of because there’s no bright stars in it. The big question people have is why this comet was supposedly green. It is not particularly rare, even though the news reports I’ve seen of it and in social and main media seem to have intimated this. And they also say it comes around every 50,000 years or that it’s the only green comet, which is incorrect. There’s a certain amount of hype that comes with comets. They can be spectacular, or they can be duds.

I remember back in 1973 a large new comet was supposed to zip around the sun and be super bright called Comet Kohoutek, people my age might remember that. It was a pretty much dustless comet. It’s the dust tail that really makes comets bright, not the ion tail of gasses. A few years later, Comet West came by for the Bicentennial in early 1976. As the comet came around the sun near perihelion, its solid nucleus started to break apart, liberating a vast dust tail. It was wonderful.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT –5 hours). They may be different for your location.

This post is actually longer than I have time for the Ephemeris program (59 seconds). I created this speech to text, due to my current physical and mental problems, it’s more stream of consciousness than my normal writing. So if it still makes sense, I’ll leave it in.

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