If you’re an astronomy enthusiast, this news is going to blow your mind. A comet is going to pass by the Earth in the upcoming weeks that was last seen 50,000 years ago!
What’s more exciting is that you won’t need any fancy equipment to catch a glimpse of this rare astronomical event. The comet will be visible through the naked eye, granted the moon is not too bright that night.
The comet is called C/2022 E3 (ZTF), after the Zwicky Transient Facility which first spotted it passing Jupiter in March last year. The much-awaited comet is making its way from the far, far reaches of our solar system and will pass the sun on January 12, and the Earth on the first of February. According to astronomers, the comet is made of ice and dust and emits a greenish aura. It’s also relatively small, with a diameter of just a kilometre. But what it lacks in size, it will make up in the proximity to Earth.
What’s Up in January? 🔭— NASA (@NASA) December 30, 2022
Throughout the month, a new comet may be seen gliding across the sky towards the northwest. Plus, the bright winter constellations are a nightly treat for stargazers. Lastly, expect the Wolf Moon on Jan. 6.
Read the full guide: https://t.co/P2s1urpEX6pic.twitter.com/fsZRYxU0vm
Experts believe that the comet is coming from the Oort Cloud, a theorised celestial body comprising icy objects that surrounds our solar system.
While the comet supposedly made an appearance when neanderthals roamed the planet, it’s not going to make a reappearance 50,000 years in the future. It will be ejected from our solar system after this trip.
The James Webb Space Telescope will be used to study the comet’s composition but it will not take any images. As it turns out, the sun will boil off its outer layers and reveal its inner layers which would make it easier for the telescope to study the comet. Experts also believe that it will be carrying information about the inhabitants of our solar system well beyond the most distant planets.