Photo: YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images
A The bright green comet will appear in the night skies above Earth, visible for the first time in 50,000 years.
The newly discovered comet, given the name C/2022 E3 (ZTF), will rise as close to the sun as possible on January 12 and will become visible in the northern hemisphere in the morning sky.
In Australia, however, it will be visible from early February when it makes its closest pass to Earth just 42 million kilometers away on the 2nd of that month.
Comets can be distinguished from stars by their tails of dust and energized particles, which will make it glow bright green.
The glow is caused by an envelope that hardens around the comet as it passes the sun, its icy exterior instantly turning to gas.
The comet will rise as close to the sun as possible on Thursday.
Discovered in March of last year by astronomers using the Wide Field Survey Camera at the Zwicky Transient Facility in southern California, the comet passes through the outermost reaches of the solar system each time it orbits the sun, which is why it takes so long so much to pass through Earth once more.
It made its last appearance on our blue planet some 50,000 years ago, when barely two million humans roamed and our ancestors, the Neanderthals, were not yet extinct.
According to According to NASA, the comet, while notoriously unpredictable, has been steadily brightening as it approaches the sun, and should be easy to spot with binoculars. If we’re lucky, it can even become visible to the naked eye in dark skies.
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