Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2023 February 7
The featured image shows Comet ZTF with a long tail between two famous
star asterisms: the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper. The image depicts
the Little Dipper near the top of the image, and the Big Dipper near 
the bottom.
Please see the explanation for more detailed information.

A Comet and Two Dippers
Image Credit & Copyright: Petr Horalek / Institute of Physics in Opava

Explanation: Can you still see the comet? Yes. Even as C/2022 E3 (ZTF) fades, there is still time to see it if you know where and when to look. Geometrically, Comet ZTF has passed its closest to both the Sun and the Earth and is now headed back to the outer Solar System. Its orbit around the Sun has it gliding across the northern sky all month, after passing near Polaris and both the Big and Little Dippers last month. Pictured, Comet ZTF was photographed between the two dippers in late January while sporting an ion tail that extended over 10 degrees. Now below naked-eye visibility, Comet ZTF can be found with binoculars or a small telescope and a good sky map. A good time to see the comet over the next week is after the Sun sets -- but before the Moon rises. The comet will move nearly in front of Mars in a few days

Comet ZTF Gallery: Notable Submissions to APOD
Tomorrow's picture: wind star

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