NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 21 February 2023: Comet ZTF over Yosemite Falls | Tech News

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 21 February 2023: Comet ZTF over Yosemite Falls

NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is a snapshot of the Comet ZTF as it streaked across the skies above Yosemite Falls.

By: HT TECH
| Updated on: Feb 21 2023, 13:31 IST
Best NASA Astronomy Pictures of the week: Comet ZTF, Hydra Galaxy Cluster, Airglow and more
Comet ZTF
1/5 Green Comet ZTF sweeps past Mars (Feb 13) - It is a picturesque image of Comet ZTF as it swept past Mars on February 10 and 11. Although the comet is no longer visible to teh naked eye, its picture was captured by astronomers as it appeared as a long faint object speeding away from the Sun. Its dust tail and ion tail were captured towards the bottom-right and the top of the image respectively. (NASA/Donato Lioce)
Comet ZTF
2/5 Heart and Soul Nebulae (Feb 14) - NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day on February 14 was a celebration of Valentine's Day in the form of the Heart and the Soul Nebulae which are located about 6000 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Cassiopeia. Both nebulas shine brightly in the red light of energized hydrogen, one of three colors shown in this three-color montage. Light takes about 6,000 years to reach us from these nebulas, which together span roughly 300 light years.  (NASA/Juan Lozano de Haro)
Comet ZTF
3/5 Airglow (Feb 15) - NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day for Feb 15 was a stunning picture of Airglow in the skies over Château de Losse in southwest France. It wasn’t just airglow that was visible. Various celestial objects were also seen, including Orion Nebula, California Nebula, Andromeda Galaxy, Mars, Sirius, Pleiades Star Cluster and the Milky Way Galaxy.  (NASA/Julien Looten)
Comet ZTF
4/5 Hydra Galaxy Cluster (Feb 16) - Hydra Cluster of galaxies is one of the three large galaxy clusters within 200 million light-years of the Milky Way and it is surrounded by millions of stars. The galaxy cluster is over 100 million light-years away in the constellation Hydra. Three large galaxies near the cluster center, two yellow ellipticals (NGC 3311, NGC 3309) and one prominent blue spiral (NGC 3312), are the dominant galaxies, each about 150,000 light-years in diameter. (NASA/Marco Lorenzi/Angus Lau/Tommy Tse)
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5/5 Asteroid 2023 CX1 (Feb 17) - A 3.2 feet wide asteroid lit up the skies over Europe on February 12 as it turned into a fireball. The asteroid, named SAR 2667 or Asteroid 2023 CX1, turned into a fireball over the European skies where it was captured by astronomers and skywatchers. It was first discovered by Krisztian Sarneczky with a 2-foot telescope at Konkoly Observatory's Piszkesteto Station, located about 100 kilometers northeast from Budapest.   (NASA/Gijs de Reijke)
Comet ZTF
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Comet ZTF made its closest approach to Earth on February 1. (NASA/Tara Mostofi)

On February 1, the Green Comet ZTF made its closest approach to Earth, which was observed by astronomers and sky-watchers worldwide. Comets are of great interest to scientists as they are remnants of the early Solar System, providing valuable information about its composition and conditions. While comets often pass close to Earth, Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is particularly noteworthy because it has a 50000-year orbit, meaning the last time it came close to Earth was almost 50000 years ago during the Upper Paleolithic period when Neanderthals were still present on Earth.

NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a mesmerizing picture of Comet ZTF streaking across the skies over Yosemite Falls located in the Sierra Nevada region of California. According to NASA, this comet was discovered by astronomers using the wide-field survey camera at the Zwicky Transient Facility in 2022 in March last year. Comet C/2022E3 (ZTF) is a long-period comet that originated in the Oort cloud. The picture was captured by astrophotographer Tara Mostofi.

The picture captures the asteroid falling towards the Sun over the Yosemite Falls.

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NASA's description of the picture

They are both falling. The water in Yosemite Falls, California, USA, is falling toward the Earth. Comet ZTF is falling toward the Sun. This double cosmic cascade was captured late last month as fading Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) had just passed its closest to planet Earth. The orange star just over the falls is Kochab. With the exception of a brief encounter with a black bear, the featured image was a well-planned composite of a moonlit-foreground and long-duration background exposures - all designed to reconstruct a deep version of an actual single sight.

Although Comet ZTF is now fading as it glides back to the outer Solar System, its path is determined by gravity and so it can be considered to still be falling toward the Sun -- but backwards.

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First Published Date: 21 Feb, 13:31 IST
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