The ISS and the Comet

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By Chuck McPartlin

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF), being called the Emerald Comet, will be closest to us, and probably at its brightest, on Wednesday, February 1, about 26 million miles away. It has gotten a lot brighter than predicted, and by late January had reached an integrated visual magnitude of 4.6, easily visible in binoculars. If you have a nice dark northern sky, it should be eyeball visible all night long as a smudge in averted vision. On Wednesday night, it will be about 20 degrees (the span of two fist widths at arm's length) up toward the one o'clock position from Polaris, at about the same altitude as the lower triangle of bright stars in Cassiopeia. Don’t expect to see the green unless you take a photo.

Get the current position of E3 at The Sky Live.

The International Space Station will be making visible passes through Santa Barbara’s evening skies in the next week, weather permitting. The orbit may change, and I've only listed the best and brightest events, so to get the latest and most complete predictions, visit Heavens Above.

On Wednesday, February 1, the ISS will rise in the NNW at 6:52 PM PST, cruise from between Cygnus and Draco to the handle of the Little Dipper before vanishing in the Earth's shadow in the NNE at 6:55 PM.

Thursday we'll have two passes. The station will first appear at 6:04 PM in the NNW, and follow a lower version of Wednesday's pass, going below the bowl of the Little Dipper, above the Bowl of the Big Dipper, through dim Cancer, and disappear below the line of Castor and Pollux in Gemini to the E at 6:09 PM. It will pop up again at 7:40 PM in the WNW and climb just above Alpheratz in the Great Square of Pegasus and fade away at 7:42 PM in the W.

On Friday, it will make a bright pass starting at 6:51 PM in the NW, from Cygnus to Andromeda, between Taurus and Cetus, and ending below Orion in Lepus at 6:56 PM in the SSE.

Saturday's pass will be the brightest of this sequence, rising in the NW at 6:02 PM in Cygnus, cruising through Cepheus to bright Capella in Auriga, and along the feet of Gemini to set by Sirius in the ESE at 6:09 PM.

On Sunday the ISS will appear at 6:51 PM in the W, cruise through the neck of Pegasus, between bright Jupiter and Venus, past Deneb Kaitos and into Fornax low in the S at 6:56 PM.

The last pass of this series will be on Monday, February 6, a higher and brighter version of Sunday's, from 6:02 PM in the WNW to 6:08 PM in the SSE.

Hasta nebula,

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macpuzl Jan 31, 2023 02:10 PM
The ISS and the Comet

The comet was easy in binoculars last night, even from suburbia.

ZeroHawk Jan 31, 2023 03:48 PM
The ISS and the Comet

hoping to see tonight. watched the iss rise from Ursa Minor, hook west and roll up into Ursa major then dip back down and vanish.

macpuzl Jan 31, 2023 09:52 PM
The ISS and the Comet

Um, the ISS orbits from west to east, and there are no kinks in its trajectory.

ZeroHawk Feb 01, 2023 09:41 AM
The ISS and the Comet

um...ISS Zarya. rose in the northeast. below horizon to above. sure no kinks in trajectory, but from where we view, it has a hook as it dips below the horizon again.
don't debate, i track these as a hobby. i use an app that is extremely accurate and use a scope. been doing this for over 40 years. pretty confident i know what i saw, have seen and will continue to see, as well as the group i go out with. carry on.

ZeroHawk Feb 01, 2023 09:47 AM
The ISS and the Comet

interesting, Night pass visibility this evening, ISS Zarya Rises 08:26PM in the north. 295*/55* culmination 08:31PM sets 08:36PM 168*/02* South. Eclipsed after 08:27PM PST. Not really west to east..
this is for this evening.

macpuzl Feb 01, 2023 02:22 PM
The ISS and the Comet

This evening, the ISS comes above a theoretical flat horizon at an azimuth of 320, in the NW, at 18:50:10 (6:50 PM), and proceeds to the East, entering the Earth's shadow just after 18:55 in the NNE.

That's the bright pass tonight, and is W to E.

There's a dim pass again that you are referring to. For a flat horizon, it starts at 20:27:08 (8:27 PM) at an azimuth of 295 degrees (NW). It disappears in our shadow at a height of 3 degrees (good luck seeing anything) at 20:27:58. It sets at 20:36:46 at an azimuth of 169 degrees (SSE).

That's also W to E.

EastBeach Feb 01, 2023 12:15 AM
The ISS and the Comet

Just viewed the comet using a pair of 9X binoculars despite the city and neighbors' lights. It looked like a fuzzy patch about 15 degrees above and to the left of Polaris. Interesting to think this comet is on such a long journey. Will try for a darker location tomorrow.

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