There are many comets that make their way around our solar system. We are familiar with the ones that deploy like clockwork to their own calendars, for example Halley's Comet or Comet Hale-Bopp. Though our modern understanding of comets as travelers of the solar system is a few hundred years old, there is still much to learn about them, and we frequently discover new ones!
One such newcomer is C/2022 E3(ZTF) named in part for the year it was discovered and for the Californian Zwicky Transient Facilitys wide-field survey camera. ZTF will be at its closest to the Sun (perihelion) on January 12th. All observations indicate this comet has an orbital period of 50,000 years, so don't wait up for your next chance to see it!
Fortunately for us, the Northern Hemisphere is the perfect place to spot this emerald passerby.
Tips to spot it:
- With binoculars or telescopes: January 12th-30th spot it low in the Northeastern sky just before midnight
- With the unaided eye: check the morning sky and late January night sky
- Its closest approach to Earth is February 1st -2nd, and it may appear in the sky close to Polaris (the North Star!)
- While not uncommon for comets, it can be distinguished from other objects in the sky by its fuzzy green coma
If anyone gets the opportunity to snap a picture, send it over to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured on our webpage!
Thank you for your time and happy spotting,
Observatory Intern, Tara ODonnell