Green Comet Makes an Appearance for the First Time in 50,000 Years

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF)

Photo: Alessandro Bianconi via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

An asteroid swung by South America recently to say hello; and not long after, another space object has paid Earth a visit. Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is a green comet that last visited our solar system 50,000 years ago. It was only discovered in March 2022, when it was spotted by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF). Given its long orbit, we're unlikely to ever see it again in our lifetimes.

The comet made its closest approach to Earth on February 1, when it was just 26 million miles away. Even though Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is now traveling away from Earth, it will still be visible for the next few weeks. So how can you see it? Though it could be visible to the naked eye—particularly on a clear night without a lot of light pollution—the comet is more easily spotted using binoculars or a telescope. To orient yourself, Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is predicted to be close to the Capella star in the Auriga constellation on February 5. Another good time to look out for the comet is between February 9 and February 13, when it will appear close to Mars in the Taurus constellation.

While this green comet isn't as bright as Comet Neowise or Comet Leonard, it's still making quite a splash. Astrophotographers, including one of our favorites Andrew McCarthy, are enjoying the opportunity to document the rare sighting. Last visible during the Paleolithic era, comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is an incredible connection to the past and reminds us of just how long the history of the universe truly is.

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) recently made an appearance in the sky for the first time in 50,000 years.


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A post shared by Andrew McCarthy (@cosmic_background)

The green comet is expected to remain visible for another few weeks before continuing its long orbit.


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A post shared by Andrew McCarthy (@cosmic_background)

h/t: []

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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