Astronomers have shared their delight over what’s dubbed as a Christmas celestial visitor, the Comet 2022 E3. Ffirst discovered in March, it is now getting more visible.
As of December 16, the comet’s dust and ion tails had been tracked by avid astrophotographers.
Although it is brightening as it approaches our Solar System, Comet 2022 E3 still too dim to see without a telescope.
And while not yet super bright, it could be visible in binoculars and make a nice target for astro-photography.
When it comes nearest the Earth and sun in early 2023, the comet should become easily visible in binoculars, and northern hemisphere residents may see it with a naked eye, according to earthsky.org.
Astronauts at the International Space Station shared their view of the comet, too.
C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is a long period comet that was discovered by the Zwicky Transient Facility on March 2, 2022.
The comet will reach its perihelion — the point at which it is closest to the sun — on January 12, 2023, at a distance of 1.11 AU. Its closest approach to Earth will be on February 1, 2023, at a distance of 0.28 AU.
An AU stands for astronomical unit — a unit of length, roughly equivalent to the distance from Earth to the Sun. On February 11-12, Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will have very close encounters with Mars.
This photo was taken by Alan Tough on December 20, 2022 New Mexico.