Comet to be visible for first time in 50,000 years


Comet visible for first time; Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF), a green comet not seen since the Stone Age, will make its closest approach to Earth next week.

It has already been visible through binoculars and telescopes this month, and may even be visible to the naked eye as it gets closer to our planet in Waterford and the rest of the northern hemisphere.

Photo by Michael Jager. Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is seen here on the night of January the 12th, when it was closest to the sun.

Experts recommend trying to catch it on Wednesday February 1st and Thursday the 2nd, when it will be at its brightest in the night sky. At its closest point, just 28 million miles away, it will be visible from both the northern and southern hemisphere.

NASA has called this rare fly-by an “awesome opportunity” to connect with an icy visitor from the outer solar system. The best time to see it has been before dawn, but as January ends and February begins, it will be visible in the evening as well.

The comet will be closest and brightest between next Wednesday and Thursday. It is recommended to check the moon rise time in your location to avoid its light interfering with the comet’s shine.

Although C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is expected to be one of the best comet sightings of 2023, it will not be as spectacular as the Neowise comet from three years ago.

So how did it get it’s name?  Well it was first discovered in March 2022 by American astronomers at the Zwicky Transient Facility in San Diego in California and was named C/2022 E3 (ZTF) after the Zwicky Transient Facility in San Diego.

How are comets named?  According to the European Space Agency the naming of an asteroid is the final step of a long process which may take decades to complete. It starts when the asteroid is first observed on two consecutive nights by one observer. These results are then sent to the Minor Planet Centre of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), which assigns a provisional designation. This is usually a serial number, such as 1992 KD.

The provisional designation includes the year of its discovery followed by two letters that give the order of its discovery during that year. Objects, discovered between 1 and 15 January, are designated in order of their discovery, AA, AB, AC, and so on. Those discovered between 16 and 31 January are given the letters BA, BB, BC, and so on. The final discoveries of the year, between 16 and 31 December, have designations in the series YA, YB, YC. (The letter J is not used.) For example, 1992 KD would have been the fourth asteroid discovery during the second half of May 1992.