At the end of January, the last comet that passed us 50,000 years ago approaches Earth. It’s not yet clear how bright the celestial body, designated C/2022 E3 (ZTF), will be in the night sky, but NASA describes it as “a wonderful opportunity to make personal contact with an icy visitor from the far outer solar system.” However, C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will likely not be as bright as Comet Neowise, which was clearly visible in the summer of 2020. It is about to approach the Sun and will be visible first in the Northern Hemisphere.
Seeing the comet binoculars
C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was not discovered until March 2022 and was initially thought to be an asteroid. The coma of the body was discovered, which at that time was more than 4 astronomical units from the Sun, after which it was classified as a comet. It is currently slightly farther from the Sun than Earth (about 1.1 AU), and reached its closest point on January 12th. Meanwhile it is getting closer and closer to Earth in its orbit, on February 1st it will be only 0.2 AU away from us. You are safe with NASAthat it can be seen in the sky beforehand, at least with binoculars, but it is also possible that it is bright enough for observation with the naked eye.
Although not particularly bright, C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is particularly favorable in the night sky. Because it is so high, it will sometimes be visible all night long, ARD Alpha. Starting in the constellation Northern Crown, it will move across the sky from the end of January and will be visible in the early evening. When the visitor from the outer solar system approached the Earth for the last time, people were already there to admire if necessary: 50,000 years ago, however, they were still able to observe them together with the Neanderthals.
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