A Naked-Eye Comet Will Pass Near Earth For First Time In 10,000 Years

For the first time in 10,000 years, a comet, named C/2022 E3 that can be seen with the naked eye will pass near the Earth for the first time.

The comet, named C/2022 E3 (ZTF), which is derived from when and how it was discovered (by a camera at the Zwicky Transient Facility). According to NASA, it is still too dim to observe without a telescope. However, that will not be the same case soon as the mixture of ice, rock, and dust rips across our cosmic backyard.

The comet was discovered in March, while it was within the orbit of Jupiter. On January 12, E3 will get as close to the Sun as it can, and on February 1 or 2, it will get as close to Earth as it can. According to NASA, it may be seen in the Northern Hemisphere beginning in late January, and in the Southern Hemisphere beginning in early February.

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) has a period of more than 200 years, making it a long-period comet. It takes this comet thousands of years to make one trip around the Sun.

The comet “has recently grown a long and highly structured ion tail,” as stated by the British Astronomical Association. The association also notes that the following two weeks may be optimal for viewing the comet due to the Moon’s diminished brightness.

According to Newsweek, astronomer Jessica Lee of the Royal Observatory Greenwich estimates that the comet’s extended orbit means it may not return to Earth for another 50,000 years. According to Lee, “some predictions suggest that the orbit of this comet is so erratic that it is no longer in an orbit,” meaning that the comet will never return and will instead go on its merry way.

According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the comet has a period of about 50,000 years. Therefore, the last time it got this near to Earth was during the Upper Paleolithic era, when it was just around 100 million miles (160 million kilometres) from the sun on January 12 and 26 million miles (42 million kilometres) from Earth on February 2.

This suggests that the last group of humans alive who could have seen C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was an early homo sapiens population living during the last glacial period. The last perihelion of C/2022 E3 occurred about the time that the last Neanderthals went extinct, which some may argue was roughly 10,000 years ago (ZTF).

On the other hand, if the comet does return, it would not be until some time around the year 52,023. That is to say, by the time we found out, it was too late.

While comet NEOWISE was visible to the naked eye during its July 2020 flyby of Earth, C/2022 E3 is not predicted to be as bright. Sunlight warmed the comet’s surface, prompting NEOWISE to emit a spectacular tail of gas and dust. The comet measured 3 miles across. The Northern Hemisphere saw the brightest comet since the Hale-Bopp comet in 1997.

It will be another 6,800 years (or 6,798 years if we assume the comet will be remarkably punctual) until NEOWISE is in Earth’s neighbourhood again. We might be the first ones to ever see Comet C/2022 E3.

Read: NASA Worries China Might Claim The Ownership Of Moon


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