Dr Tanya Hill is Senior Curator, Astronomy at Museums Victoria….I develop award-winning planetarium shows for the Melbourne Planetarium, working with a creative team of people to tell the stories of the universe. The planetarium shows we produce are licensed to planetariums around Australia and across twenty countries world-wide. Tanya Hill is my guest after 8am this morning to yarn about the Green Comet 50,000 years return …so tune in.
You can regularly hear Tanya on the radio inspiring people to look up and explore the night sky. Tanya presents talks and lectures including Melbourne Planetarium’s popular Discover the Night Sky series. I also write an astronomy column called ‘Look Up’ for The Conversation.
Just a bit of background on the comet, the comet may be faintly visible in country Victoria skies from 6 Feb to 11 Feb. Each day it’s getting fainter, so it’ll be its brightest (but still faint) on the 6th and much fainter by the 11th. The key with the 11 Feb is that the comet will be just to the right of Mars, so it’s a useful guide… eg. Using binoculars, you can look towards Mars and then pan a little to the right to try and find the comet. Over the coming days, this celestial visitor from the Stone Age will finally be visible in Australian skies.
The comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF), dubbed "the green comet", is making its closest approach to our planet in 50,000 years, having last done so when Neanderthals and homo sapiens co-existed.
The comet really is only just at the limits of being visible to the naked eye – even under a dark country sky, at best it will be a small fuzzy blob if you know exactly where to look. But it’s still great to talk about and lots of things could be discussed about the Comet and the incredibly images that amateur astronomers have been making.
Tanya Hill joined Museum Victoria in 1999 and was part of the team that opened the Melbourne Planetarium at Scienceworks. Prior to that, Tanya carried out research in the field of extra-galactic astronomy, where she hunted for supermassive black holes using a variety of Australian telescopes.
Dr Tanya Hill is an Honorary Fellow in Physics at the University of Melbourne and an Honorary Fellow of the Astronomical Society of Australia.
Tanya is the Australian representative for the European Southern Observatory’s Science Outreach Network.