Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is approaching Earth, which will likely be visible to the naked eye in early January and February. It is now visible through telescopes and binoculars. This so-called long-period comet was discovered by the Zwicky Transit Sky Survey, which uses the 1.22-meter Samuel Oschin Telescope at the Palomar Observatory in the United States.
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They made the discovery on March 2, 2022 Astronomers Bryce Bolin and Frank Massey. At that time, its brightness was 17.3 magnitudes and it was 640 million km from the Sun. At first, it was assumed that it was an asteroid, but then its cometary character was discovered.
The comet passed through the point of its orbit closest to the sun (the so-called perihelion) on January 12 of this year. At a distance of 1.11 astronomical units (1.11 AU), or 166 million km. Currently The object is 103 million km from Earthbut closest to our planet will be on February 1, when the distance will be 42 million km (0.28 AU).
Currently The comet can be seen in the constellation Corona NordWhich in the second half of the night begins to rise above the horizon. In the following days it will move, which will improve the visibility conditions (it will be visible higher in the sky a little earlier), for example, on February 1 it will be visible in the constellation Giraffe.
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right Now, You need a telescope or binoculars to see it. The comet’s current brightness is about 7 magnitudes and this is a slightly better result than expected, which increases the chances of seeing it with the naked eye in a dozen days or so. According to forecasts, in early January and February, the comet may reach a brightness that allows you to see it with the naked eye, although it will rather be the limit of this vision – you will have dark skies and know where to look to see the comet without binoculars.
On February 5th and 6th, the comet will pass the bright star Capella in turn On February 10 and 11, it will pass in the sky near Mars At a distance of 1.5 degrees, from February 13 to 15, it will transit the open Hyades cluster near the bright star Aldebaran.
Current information about the comet’s location and brightness can be found, for example, on the website https://theskylive.com/c2022e3-info or obtained from planetarium-type computer programs (eg Free stellariumcommonly used by astronomy enthusiasts) or related mobile applications.
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