50,000-year first: Green comet will brighten night sky

A comet that was unknown a year ago will zoom through the night sky Jan. 12.

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C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was discovered March 2 by astronomers at the Palomar Observatory in San Diego using the Zwicky Transient Facilitiy’s wide-field survey camera, CNN reported.

The comet will make its closest approach to the sun Jan. 12, NASA said, as the space object continues its orbit through the outer reaches of our solar system.

That means it has taken about 50,000 years to get as close to the sun as it will be this week.

Sky watchers in the Northern Hemisphere can use telescopes and binoculars to see the comet low on the northeastern horizon beginning just before midnight Jan. 12, EarthSky said.

Space enthusiasts will have another chance to see it even closer Feb. 2 when it is the closest to Earth — about 26 million miles. And by the end of the month, you may be able to see the comet without the help of a telescope or binoculars as it continues to brighten to a magnitude 5 or 6. Currently, it’s at a magnitude of 7.4, according to EarthSky.

Once it zooms past Earth, the comet will begin to dim, CBS News reported.

If the conditions are not favorable in your location, or you don’t have a telescope to see the comet, the Virtual Telescope Project will live stream it Jan. 12.

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