A rare comet passes Earth for the first time in 50,000 years

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Later this month Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) can be seen with the naked eye in a dark night sky.

Its orbital period is roughly 50,000 years, meaning the bright blue-green comet with a golden tail has not been visible from Earth since Neanderthals roamed the planet.


What you need to know

  • Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will approach Earth on February 1
  • It will be visible to the naked eye later this month when looking northwest
  • This will be the closest approach of a comet to Earth in about 50,000 years

According to NASA, on January 12, the comet was at perihelion, at its closest approach to the Sun, and on February 1, it will be at perigee, at its closest approach to Earth. It will come within about 100 million miles of the Sun and 26 million miles of Earth.

NASA diagram showing the orbital path of Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) as it passes Earth. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Astronomers discovered the comet back in March 2022 using the Wide Field View Camera at the Zwicky Transient Facility in California.

How to see it? Later this month until early February, it could be seen with the naked eye in a dark sky near the horizon in the early morning hours when looking in the northeastern sky.

Because the brightness of comets is notoriously unpredictable, according to NASA, you’ll have a better chance of seeing a comet through binoculars or a telescope.

If you miss it, you won’t have another chance to see Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) for 50,000 years. With any luck, we won’t be doing the same thing our ancestors did the last time this comet flew by.

Fortunately, it will plenty of other opportunities in 2023 for stargazers to pull out their telescopes.

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A rare comet passes Earth for the first time in 50,000 years

Source link A rare comet passes Earth for the first time in 50,000 years