India’s Himalayan Telescope Spots Second Comet in Two Weeks

India’s Himalayan Chandra Telescope (HCT), located atop Mount Saraswati in Hanle of Ladakh, has spotted its second comet in just two weeks. The country’s highest observatory identified Comet C/2020 V2 (ZTF) using three different filters and found that it has a wide coma and a short tadpole-shaped dust tail. The images were taken by Margarita Safonova, Mulchand Kurre, and Bharat Chandra of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics and co-added to create a true-color image of the comet.

Comet C/2020 V2 (ZTF) was first discovered in 2020 by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) during a survey in which the telescope scans the entire northern sky every two nights using an exceptionally wide-field CCD camera. The comet is above the horizon from Greenwich and is visible in the northern direction, according to The Sky Live.

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Comets are composed mostly of ice coated with dark organic material, often referred to as dirty snowballs. They may yield important clues about the formation of our solar system.

This discovery follows the observatory’s spotting of Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) in the first week of January. This rare green comet last came close to Earth about 50,000 years ago and recently completed its orbit around the Sun. Astronomers expect the comet to be visible in the skies above Earth in early February and potentially visible to the naked eye if it glows at a higher magnitude.

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In conclusion, India’s Himalayan Chandra Telescope has made two significant discoveries in the field of comet hunting, in just two weeks. These discoveries are expected to yield important insights into the formation of our solar system, and the comets will be visible in the sky in the coming weeks.

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