The ISS and the Comet

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,


Written by macpuzl

Outreach Coordinator for the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit

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