Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Las Cruces astronomy organization gives tips on spotting recently discovered comet

The Astronomical Society of Las Cruces is an organization that provides opportunities for astronomical observation and education in Southern New Mexico. The organization is holding an event on February 11th at their observatory in Leasburg Dam State Park to observe a comet that will be aligned closely with Mars.

According to Tim Kostelecky, president of the Astronomical Society of Las Cruces, the green comet, formally known as Comet C/22 E3 (ZTF), is currently visible to Southern New Mexicans, and it will reach its closest distance to earth on Feb. 2.

“You can see this pretty well even close to the city here, it’s getting bright enough. It’s a binocular object really. If you want to see it with your naked eye you’re going to have to be in very dark skies,” he said. “But it’s relatively easily seen with binoculars, maybe not in the midst of downtown [Las Cruces]but if you get into the outskirts of the city, venture out a little bit, and look at the northern sky, then you can find it,”

According to Kostelecky, while the comet will be closest to earth in early February, it’s going to be difficult to spot due to moonlight interference on the nights of Jan. 28 – Feb. 4. Kostelecky said that on those nights, it will be best to search for it in the early mornings once the moon sets.

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