a cometwas captured in new photos early Monday morning. The comet, designated C/2022 E3 (ZTF), could become bright enough to be seen with the naked eye, according to NASA.
The comet was discovered in March 2022 by astronomers using the wide-field survey camera at the Zwicky Transient Facility in California. NASA has released a new photo of the comet taken by Jose Francisco Hernández on Monday.
It was too dark to see without a telescope, but several people were able to capture images of the comet as it sweeps across the constellation Corona Borealis.
According to Space.com, the comet has not visited Earth or the inner solar system since the last Ice Age.
The comet will reach perihelion, or closest point to the sun, on Thursday, January 12. It’s expected to reach its perigee, or closest to Earth, in early February and then dim dramatically, according to NASA.
“Comets are notoriously unpredictable, but if this one continues its current trend in brightness, it will be easy to spot with binoculars, and it’s entirely possible that it will become visible to the unaided eye under dark skies,” NASA says.
It will be visible to observers in the Northern Hemisphere in the early hours of January and to those in the Southern Hemisphere in early February.
Whether or not the comet becomes visible to the naked eye, viewers can see it on January 12 in a live stream hosted by the Virtual Telescope Project, which offers public tours of several robotic telescopes.
The last comet visible to skygazers was Comet NEOWISE in 2020. C/2022 E3 “isn’t expected to be a big spectacle,” NASA says, “but it’s still a great opportunity to make a personal connection with one.” icy visitors from the US produce far-flung outer solar system.”
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