A green comet that has just been discovered is going to fly past our Pale Blue Dot and could possibly be seen with the unaided eye.
NASA and CalTech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory predicted that the green comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF), which is named, would initially approach the Sun before circling back towards Earth between January 12 and February 2.
The comet will be visible in the early sky around the end of January for skywatchers in the Northern Hemisphere, according to a JPL article. Beginning in early February, observers in the Southern Hemisphere should be able to view it.
The greatest viewing time, according to Space.com, is on January 21 during the new moon, when the sky would be very black without the Moon’s illumination.
The JPL says that although comets are notoriously unpredictable, if this one maintains its present brightness trend, it will be simple to identify with binoculars and may even become visible to the unassisted eye under dark skies.
This unusual green comet was discovered in March 2022 and was located inside Jupiter’s orbit using a wide-field survey camera at CalTech’s Zwicky Transient Facility. Since then, it has moved closer and closer to the Sun, and as NASA highlighted in a blog post on the comet, it will get near to Earth on February 1 at its perigee.
According to JPL data, which was made public by Space.com, the last time this lovely green monster came this near to Earth was roughly 50,000 years ago, making Neanderthals from the Ice Age the last people to have seen it.
C/2022 E3 (ZTF) may be difficult to view as it travels toward and away from Earth depending on light pollution and weather, but be assured that skywatchers with pricey telephoto lenses or access to institutional telescopes will be able to capture stunning images of it.