The last time comet E3 (C/2022 E3) was visible to those on Earth was when actual Neanderthals were still around. Now, we get to see it for the first time in 50,000 and astronomists are already getting excited about it.
So how do we know that it’s coming? Well, right now it’s visible using a telescope so astronomy enthusiasts can already see it in the night sky, but as it gets closer and closer to Earth, we’ll be able to see it too!
Astronomists from the Zwicky Transient Facility spotted the comet a while ago, back on March 2, and it’s currently 117 million miles away from Earth, in the Corona Borealis constellation. Comet E3 should be visible throughout January.
It will come within 26 million miles of Earth on February 1, and then it will start to recede from sight. If you want to see it then late January is the best time, and the comet appears to be green and yellow but will probably appear grey to us.
We haven’t been able to see a comet with the naked eye since July 2022, when NEOWISE appeared in the sky. Comet E3 is not likely to be as bright as NEOWISE but this will be your only chance to see it as it won’t be visible again on Earth for another 50,000 years.
Although you won’t need anything to see the comet, a pair of binoculars is always a good idea if you have them. February 1 will be the best day to see it, so go out to somewhere dark, away from light pollution, and make sure to see this incredibly rare sight.