The comet, named by C/2022 E3 (ZTF), will fly near Earth and, over the next 3 weeks, you’ll have a prime chance to see it if you look. The comet was found by the Zwicky Transient Facilit (ZTF) which is an astronomical survey that uses an extremely wide-field lens on its camera to capture images, and was first mistaken for an asteroid. Because comets are made of ice and gas and have a tail, it was realized to be a comet, and further, NASA realized this comet hasn’t passed by Earth in 50,000 years.
Although it’s likely you’ll be able to see the comet with just the naked eye, comet brightness can be hard to predict, plus there’s always the issue of light pollution. Good news is that it’s been predicted to be “fifth magnitude,” which is the highest amount a star can be illuminated, meaning you should be able to spot it in the night sky.
We’d recommend trying to get a glimpse because C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will likely not make an appearance for another 50,000 years or might fling itself out of the solar system for good as it makes its rounds orbiting the sun.
Thursday, January 12th, will be one of two chances to see it. Look to the sky in a northwest direction during the morning, and you can catch a glimpse of it as it reaches its closest proximity to the sun. On February 1st, you’ll have the chance to see it again when it reaches its closest proximity to Earth. By using binoculars in an area away from the city or by going with a planetarium program, like the planetarium at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, you’ll have a better chance at seeing this once in 50,000 year celestial show.