spaceSpace and Physics

Have You Seen The Green Comet Yet? It's Now Visible With The Naked Eye

The comet will be closest to Earth next week.


Dr. Alfredo Carpineti

Senior Staff Writer & Space Correspondent

clockJan 23 2023, 12:31 UTC
An image of the comet, you can see its green coma.

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) photographed several weeks ago. Image credit: Dominique Dierick via Flickr - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The last time Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was visible in the night sky, Neanderthals were still roaming the planet with our ancestors. In the intervening 50,000 years, a lot has changed, and we can see these celestial objects with binoculars and telescopes – but you won’t need them to see this comet. C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is now visible to the naked eye.

Currently, it has a magnitude of 5.9, so it is only visible where the sky is really dark (and we know that there’s less and less of that around). But as it gets closer to Earth, it is expected to reach a magnitude of 5, which is equivalent to that of Eta Ursae Minoris, the left bottom corner star of the Little Dipper. If you can see that in your sky with no aid, you will be able to see the comet. Otherwise, you can always use a pair of binoculars to help you.

A online planetarium screenshot of what the sky will look like tonight
Where to see the comet tonight in the UK. Image credit: The Sky Live

The day of the closest approach is February 1, and the comet will be about 42 million kilometers (26 million miles) from Earth. The comet is visible in the Northern hemisphere throughout the night, so you do not have to wake up very early to spot it. It is just next to the constellation of Draco, right underneath the handle of the Big Dipper. Over the next several days, it will move further and further north, passing the Little Dipper as it brightens. 

spaceSpace and Physics
  • tag
  • night sky,

  • stargazing,

  • telescope,

  • Comets,

  • celestial bodies,

  • green comet,

  • Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF)