In early February 2023, a unique comet that was last seen by the Neanderthals is returning to the skies for the first time in thousands of years.
In our inner solar system, this vividly green comet with two brilliant tails has not been seen since Earth’s inhabitants first encountered it 50,000 years ago. It has been traveling through space for tens and thousands of years before finally making its way into our system.
In the latest solar orbit calculation, the comet (named C/2022 E3 (ZTF) by experts) is 160 million kilometres from the sun.
When is it coming?
Observe for the distinctive green glow caused by the sun when turning the icy shell of a comet into gas. Comets are somewhat unpredictable in terms of when they will appear and where they will go so exact times are not available.
As it approaches Earth on February 2, it will pass within 42 million kilometres of us, making it visible for the first time since the Stone Age to everyone in Wyndham and the Southern Hemisphere.
The icy giant green comet was discovered by astronomers in California in March 2022, and it appears to have come from the far reaches of space. It has steadily brightened as it approaches the sun, and it seems to have travelled here from the farthest reaches of outer space.
Why is it Green?
Since the comet’s ancient icy exterior turns into gas as it passes the sun, its brilliant green colour is caused by a green coma that surrounds it. In long-exposure photographs, you’ll be able to see the comet better than through binoculars or small telescopes.
How and when to see it.
It’ll be visible through binoculars in the morning sky in early February from Wyndham and the rest of Australia, according to astronomers.
Our naked eyes might even catch a glimpse of it if we’re lucky, NASA says.
Keep your eyes on the sky. It will take another 50,000 years before this icy giant passes us by again.