A green comet that orbits the sun every 50,000 years, is currently passing through the inner solar system, closing to Earth. The C/2022 E3 (ZTF) comet, discovered last year in March by Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), is already visible through telescopes or binoculars, but next week it may be observed with the naked eye.
As per LifeScience, the comet will make its closest approach to Earth on Feb. 1, passing within about 26 million miles (42 million kilometers) of our planet. This means with might get to see the comet for the first and last time on 1st and 2nd February, and according to NASA, the best time to see the comet is in the predawn hours. “Some predictions suggest that the orbit of this comet is so eccentric it’s no longer in an orbit—so it’s not going to return at all and will just keep going,” said Jessica Lee, astronomer with the Royal Observatory Greenwich.
The rare comet, not seen in more than 2 decades, glows green due to the presence of certain gases in its coma, that fluoresce when excited by sunlight, emitting light in the blue-green part of the spectrum. “Comets are notoriously unpredictable, but if this one continues its current trend in brightness, it’ll be easy to spot with binoculars, and it’s just possible it could become visible to the unaided eye under dark skies,” said NASA.
The Royal Observatory made a list of tips on how to see this once-in-a-lifetime comet, advising to “check what time the Moon will rise in your area and avoid attempting to observe at these times.” Also, “check there will be clear-ish skies, choose your spot so that you’ll be able to see the comet from your vantage point and elevation, and wrap up very warm before heading out to see the green comet.”