Rare green comet makes its closest approach to earth. Here’s how to see it

Best time to see Comet ZTF is before sunrise in early February

Comet 2022 E3 (ZTF) - Telescopic image from December 19 shows the comet's brighter greenish coma, short broad dust tail, and long faint ion tail stretching across a 2.5 degree wide field-of-view. (Dan Bartlett, Dan Bartlett/NASA)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Comet ZTF is making its closest pass to earth over the first couple of days of February. If you’re trying to catch a glimpse of the once-in-50,000-year event, it’s going to take some work.

You will likely need a pair of binoculars or a small telescope to find it in the sky.

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We pointed out last month that the hype behind this comet was unjustified. This is certainly an exciting event, but this was never going to be another Hale-Bopp. Hale-Bopp was a great comet from the mid-90s that was clearly visible to the naked eye, even in the city.

Even in remote areas away from light pollution, you will likely need binoculars or a small telescope to see this comet. The moon will also make things challenging for most of the night so the best time to find ZTF will be before sunrise and after about 4 a.m. as the moon starts to set.

Comet ZTF will be hovering between the bright star Capella, low on the horizon, and the Big Dipper in the northwest sky. It will likely appear as a gray or green smudge with the help of binoculars or a small telescope.

While the comet itself will get fainter as it moves away from Earth and gets deep into the solar system, it may be easier to spot through the middle of the month as the moonlight becomes less of a factor.

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About the Author:

Jonathan Kegges joined the News 6 team in June 2019 as the Weekend Morning Meteorologist. Jonathan comes from Roanoke, Virginia where he covered three EF-3 tornadoes and deadly flooding brought on by Hurricanes Florence and Michael.