Green comet to appear in the sky for the first time in 50,000 years

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Grab your binoculars, and look up as a recently discovered comet will make an appearance in the night sky for the first time in 50,000 years.

The comet named C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was discovered by astronomers through a wide-field survey camera back in March 2022, when the comet was already inside the orbit of Jupiter.

According to NASA, the comet will make its closest approach to the sun on Jan. 12 before passing closest to the Earth on Feb. 2.

This particular comet has an orbit around the sun that passes through the outer reaches of the solar system, which is why no one in our lifetime has witnessed the green glow.

The best opportunity for Northern Hemisphere stargazers to witness the once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon will be just before midnight on Jan. 12, according to EarthSky.

According to NASA, the comet should be visible through binoculars in the morning sky but said it could become visible to the naked eye under dark skies.

For Northern Hemisphere sky-watchers, the comet will be visible for most of January, while those in the Southern Hemisphere will be able to catch a glimpse in early February.

Although the comet will be around 26 million miles away, EarthSky said observers will be able to spot it near the North Star and should be visible earlier in the evening.

Still unsure what to look for? The icy visitor from the distant outer solar system can be distinguished from stars by its streaking tails of dust along with a glowing green coma around it. As the comet passes close to the sun, the coma causes the comet’s ice to turn directly into gas, making the comet look fuzzy through a telescope.

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