Comet That Last Flew Past Earth during Neanderthal Era Is Set To Return to Night Sky in the New Year

By: | January 5th, 2023

The E3 comet (Image Credit NASA/Dan Bartlett )

If you look up into the sky in the coming days, you can experience a comet named the C/2022 E3 (ZTF). The last time this comet appeared was during the Ice Age when the Sahara desert was wet and fertile.

This comet was discovered by astronomers at the Zwicky Transient Facility using a wide-field survey camera in March 2022. Upon discovery, the comet was about 4.3 AU (640 million km) from the Sun. 

“Since then the new long-period comet has brightened substantially and is now sweeping across the northern constellation Corona Borealis in predawn skies. It’s still too dim to see without a telescope though. But this fine telescopic image from December 19 does show the comet’s brighter greenish coma, short broad dust tail, and long faint ion tail stretching across a 2.5 degree wide field-of-view,” wrote NASA 

The comet has a blue-green coma and a golden tail 

Recently, scientists took the first detailed photos of the comet. At present, the comet is too faint to see without a telescope. But it should be visible to the naked eye when it is about 26 million miles away.

As per estimates this comet orbits the sun every 50.000 years and is scheduled to make its closest approach to our Earth on February 1, 2023. One can see it with the naked eye in late January and the beginning of February 2023.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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