Comet last seen 50,000 years ago to be visible from Earth this month

UTAH — A recently discovered comet is set to pass through the inner solar system this month, and it should be visible with a telescope or binoculars.

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF), which was first sighted in March 2022, will make its closest approach to the sun on January 12 and then pass closest to Earth on February 2, according to NASA.

According to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, this comet could last be seen from Earth during the Upper Paleolithic period, about 50,000 years ago.

“Comets are notoriously unpredictable, but if this one continues its current trend in brightness, it’ll be easy to spot with binoculars, and it’s just possible it could become visible to the unaided eye under dark skies,” said a report from NASA.

This NASA chart shows the orbital path of Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) at the closest approach. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

During January, observers in the Northern Hemisphere will be able to find the comet moving northwest through the morning sky.

“This comet isn’t expected to be quite the spectacle that Comet NEOWISE was back in 2020. But it’s still an awesome opportunity to make a personal connection with an icy visitor from the distant outer solar system,” said a report from NASA.

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