Don’t miss this week’s glowing green comet

By AG STAFF 30 January 2023
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A bright green comet will be visible from Australia this week for the first time in 50,000 years.

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF), known as ‘the green comet’ due to its emerald glow, is also distinguishable by its long tail of dust and ice.

Right now the long-period comet* is observable in the northern hemisphere’s predawn skies as it makes its way across the northern constellation Corona Borealis.

It will be visible from Australia and New Zealand this week, at its clearest on 1 and 2 February. This is when the comet will be at perigee, its closest position to Earth.

The brightness of comets such as this is unpredictable, but it is possible the green comet could be visible with the naked eye in areas of low light pollution. The best chance of seeing it is with a telescope or binoculars.

Astronomers discovered comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) in March 2022 using the wide-field survey camera at the Zwicky Transient Facility in California.

*There are two categories of comet, based on the amount of time they take to orbit the Sun. Short-period comets take less than 200 years and long-period comets take more than 200 years, with some taking 100,000 to 1 million years to orbit the Sun.

Related: Hubble telescope records largest comet nucleus ever seen