We are hoping for some clear skies over the next few weeks in order to see something that hasn't been seen in over 50,000 years.  A newfound comet will be passing by earth between now and early February and could possibly be bright enough to see with the naked eye. 

According to N.A.S.A last March two astronomers at the Zwicky Transient Facility spotted this very same comet that apparently travelled out to the edge of our solar system and back since its last visit.  

Between now and early February the comet labeled C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will make its closest pass around the Sun on January 12 and will be relatively close to earth on February 1.

Relatively close still means 42 million kilometres away but experts say even that far away on a clear night the comet will be bright enough to be seen with binoculars or a backyard telescope, or possibly even unaided.  

mapThe path of comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) past Earth, with its closest approach on Feb 1, 2023. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

"The brightness of comets is notoriously unpredictable, but by then C/2022 E3 (ZTF) could become only just visible to the eye in dark night skies," N.A.S.A stated.

If one were to try and spot it now, its light is too faint to be seen without a telescope. The comet, travelling through the inner solar system is now sweeping across the northern constellation Corona Borealis. The comet has been classified as a long-period comet, meaning that it will take over 200 years to orbit the sun.

With a 50,000-year round trip, this is a once-in-a-lifetime sight and based on its path around the Sun, astronomers have already mapped out its exact path as it moves through the constellations.

mapThis sky chart shows the position of comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) in the night sky when it is expected to be brightest when viewed from Earth, from January 12 to February 10, 2023. From January 24 to February 6, the comet should be visible to the unaided eye, provided the observer is viewing from under dark skies, far from city lights. Credit: Stellarium/Scott Sutherland

Experts say from all indications, C/2022 E3 (ZTF) won't ever be swinging past Earth again because it is currently on a trajectory to be ejected from our solar system for good.  So once it makes the trip around the Sun it won't be coming back!  


Send your news tips, story ideas, pictures, and videos to news@strathmorenow.com