Green comet to light up UK skies

Watch: Once-in-a-lifetime green comet approaches closest to Earth

A once-in-a-lifetime comet may become bright enough to be seen with the naked eye as it makes its closest approach to Earth next week.

The glowing green comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was last visible from Earth during the Stone Age and will make its closest approach to Earth on February 1, scientists said.

The comet can already be seen using a telescope or binoculars.

“Observers in the Northern Hemisphere will find the rapidly moving northwesterly comet in the morning sky in January. It will become visible in the Southern Hemisphere in early February,” Nasa said in a statement.

“This comet isn’t expected to be as spectacular as Comet NEOWISE in 2020. But it’s still a great opportunity to make a personal connection with an icy visitor from the distant outer solar system.”

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The comet has not been seen in the inner solar system for 50,000 years (Image: Presented by Michael Jager)

The comet has not been seen in the inner solar system for 50,000 years. (Michael Jager)

How to see rare green comet from England

The Royal Observatory suggests that the best way to get a good view of the comet is to wait at least 15 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness.

This means avoiding looking at devices with bright screens such as cell phones, laptops and tablets.

Checking online when the moon will rise in your area and looking up at the sky before it rises will help the moonlight block your view of the comet.

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Many astronomy and sky-tracking apps allow you to watch Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF), and University of Toronto astrophysicist Hanno Rein has created one specifically for this – it’s available for free on Apple’s app store.

Those unable to watch the soaring comet can catch the event online via the Virtual Telescope Project, which will stream the event on its YouTube channel from 4am GMT on February 1.

The comet is thought to come from the Oort Cloud at the edge of the solar system and was first seen in March last year.

Astronomers believe that its orbit means that after its visit to Earth and the sun, it will travel into deep space and mark the last opportunity to see it.

The comet was detected by the Zwicky Transient Facility in California – hence the name ZTF.

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It made its closest approach to the Sun on January 12 and has been getting brighter ever since.

It will be closest to Earth on February 1.

Its green color is due to UV radiation from solar illuminating gases emitted from its surface.

“Comets are notoriously unpredictable, but if this comet continues its current trend in brightness, it will be easy to spot with binoculars and may be visible to the naked eye under dark skies,” Nasa said.

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