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February 2023

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Wednesday, Febuary 1st

Observe Comet 2022 E3 (ZTF)

The Rio Rancho Astronomical Society (RRAS) and New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science (NMMNHS) 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 NMMNHS, 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.

This is a free event, but donations are appreciated.  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; check the dates listed at right


For more details about the comet, visit the museum’s public Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NMMNHS and search for #SpaceScienceSundayNM
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2023 Meeting Dates
27-Jan-23 7:30 PM
24-Feb-23 7:30 PM
31-Mar-23 7:30 PM
29-Apr-23 National Astronomy Day TBA
26-May-23 5:00 PM
23-Jun-23 7:30 PM
21-Jul-23 7:30 PM
18-Aug-23 7:30 PM
23-Sept-23  Night Under the Stars Fundraiser TBA
20-Oct-23 7:30 PM
17-Nov-23 7:30 PM