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Closest approach Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF)

Wednesday, February 01, 2023
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On March 2, 2022, using images taken by the 48-inch Schmidt telescope at Mount Palomar, the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) identified a new 17th magnitude asteroid-like object. Soon a small coma was detected and it was identified as a comet and given the designation C/2022 E3 (ZTF). The comet begins the month as a 10th magnitude object in the constellation Corona Borealis, but by the end of the month, it will have traveled though the constellations of Boötes, Draco and become a circumpolar object in Ursa Minor brightening several magnitudes along the way. From January 29th through February 4th its apparent motion will be booking along to the tune of 6 degrees per day. That’s equivalent to 15 seconds of arc per minute. At high magnification its movement across the sky may be visible visually through a telescope. Would that be cool to see or what? Closest approach to the Earth occurs on February 2nd passing within 0.28 astronomical units of the Earth (42 million km) and possibly brightening to magnitude 5 or 6 making it visible with the naked eye from a dark site or in binoculars locally. You can use the link below to keep tabs on the brightness and location of comet ZTF throughout the month.

C/2022 E3 (ZTF): A northern hemisphere morning comet visible to the naked eye
This comet begins the month in Corona Borealis at magnitude 7.7. Look for a 19.5' coma. It should brighten rapidly, moving into Camelopardalis by month's end.  FINDER CHART

Latitude Visibility December 31 Visibility January 7 Visibility January 14 Visibility January 21 Visibility January 28 Nights Visible
55oN Not visible Not visible High in moonlight at ~05:50 High at ~05:30 High at ~04:30 1-
40oN Not visible Not visible High in moonlight at ~05:40 High at ~05:30 High at ~04:20 1-
Equator Not visible Not visible Not visible Fairly high in the northern sky at ~04:50 Low in the northern sky at ~04:50 1-
30oS Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible Not visible
Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) has spent the last 50,000 years slogging its way through the solar system to get here. So get outside and give it a warm welcome.