A January 2023 Comet Will be Visible from Earth for the First Time Since the Prehistoric Era


A recently discovered comet could become visible to the naked eye later this month, according to NASA. The comet — called C/2022 E3 (ZTF) — will only be visible for a short time before continuing on an orbital path that will take it to the outer reaches of our solar system.

Comets are thought to have formed some 4.5 billion years ago from the mass of left over material that shaped the myriad planets and moons that now orbit our Sun. As reported by Space.com, C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was first discovered by astronomers using the wide-field survey camera at the Zwicky Transient Facility in California, as it passed within the orbit of Jupiter in March 2022.

C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is known as a long-period comet. These icy time capsules boast sweeping orbits that take them to the far flung regions of our solar system that exist well beyond the paths of the outer planets. 

According to Space.com, C/2022 E3 (ZTF) only visits the inner solar system roughly once every 50,000 years, making January’s opportunity to spot it with the naked eye an incredibly rare opportunity. The last time C/2022 E3 (ZTF) appeared in the night sky our planet was locked in a global ice age, and our ancient neanderthal ancestors roamed the land. When it next slips from view and makes its exit from the inner solar system, it won’t be seen again until long after we, and potentially our entire race, is gone.

C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is set to make its closest approach to the Sun on January 12 before making a flyby of Earth on February 1 at a distance of 26.4 million miles (42.5 million km).

In early 2023, the comet will be most visible during the predawn hours in the northern part of the sky below the Big Dipper (for viewers located in the northern hemisphere). Later in February, the comet will also make an appearance to stargazers in the southern hemisphere. During these times, the wanderer should be easily recognizible through small telescopes and binoculars as a small milky smudge in the night sky. 

It’s also possible that the comet could brighten to the extent that it will be visible to the naked eye in dark sky areas that are free of light pollution.

Be sure to stick with IGN to stay up to date with all of the biggest and most beautiful developments in the world of science.

Anthony is a freelance contributor covering science and video gaming news for IGN. He has over eight years experience of covering breaking developments in multiple scientific fields and absolutely no time for your shenanigans. Follow him on Twitter @BeardConGamer

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.



Read original article here

Denial of responsibility! TechnoCodex is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave a comment