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Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF)



Will we be able to see comet c2022E3 from our skies after Feb 1st towards Feb 10th and 15th from the Southern Hemisphere? Would we be able to look at it through a telescope and see it? I know it's just a big grey blob but its so special and my birthday is in April that I might be able to convince my partner to go early as my present haha

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Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was first observed on 2 March 2022 by astronomers Bryce Bolin and Frank Masci using the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) survey. 

Upon discovery the comet had an apparent magnitude of 17.3 and was about 4.3 AU (640 million km) from the Sun. Initially identified as an asteroid, subsequent observations revealed it had a very condensed coma, indicating it is a comet.

The comet reached its perihelion on January 12, 2023, at a distance of 1.11 AU (166 million km) from the Sun. The closest approach to Earth was on February 1, 2023, at a distance of 0.28 AU (42 million km). The comet was expected to get brighter than magnitude 6 and thus become visible with the naked eye. The last time the comet was this close to Earth was about 50,000 years ago.

The comet is expected to get higher as the month progresses but it’s currently at mag 6.9

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I'll add a bit to that reply. 

We'll start with a reasonable viewing time; around 10:30 p.m.

According to my programmes, C/2022 E3 won't be above the horizon at that time until Feb 07. It begins to climb fairly rapidly each evening after that, though, and will have a pretty cool conjunction with Mars on Feb. 11. In fact, it will be about 1 degree from it and should be a very pretty sight in binoculars. You will need to look to the NNW, about 16 degrees above the horizon. This isn't much in the way of altitude so the viewing may be fairly blurry due to the amount of atmosphere you will be looking through.  By February 15, it will be 23 degrees above the horizon, so viewing will be a bit better. 

From what I can see on the software projections, it looks like the comet reaches its maximum altitude around the evening of March 08. On that date, it should be ~ 27 degrees up and just 10 degrees below Rigel, in Orion. Ten degrees is about the width of your fist held out at arm's length. It should be pretty easy to spot *if* it doesn't begin to dim greatly in the meantime. The luminosity curve of these objects are notoriously difficult to predict, and they can fade quite quickly and unexpectedly. 

As for viewing it through our telescope, we aren't actually open until late March. We close for the summer because of the late start that decent viewing would require (most folks don't want to rock out to a dark site at midnight!).  The good news is that the comet will be a binocular object under dark skies for a while, so we recommend you find a place just a short distance out of the city - 15-20 km should easily do it. 

Clear skies,

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