If you look up at the sky over the next few months, you might see an object that was last seen by Neanderthals.
On March 2, 2022, astronomers at the Zwicky Transition Center discovered an unusual comet. According to experts, this comet orbits the Sun every 50,000 years, that is, the last time we saw it was during the Upper Paleolithic, when humans began to spread in Asia and Europe.
The comet, dubbed “C/2022 E3 (ZTF)”, is currently too faint to be seen without a telescope. However, it can be observed with the naked eye at the end of January – beginning of February 2023.
The comet will reach its perihelion on January 12, 2023, at a distance of 1.11 AU (166 million km) and its closest approach to Earth will be on February 1, 2023, at a distance of 0.28 AU (42 million km).
The comet is currently approaching perihelion (its closest approach to the Sun) on January 12. It will be closest to Earth on February 1. Around this time, the object may be visible to the naked eye, but it will likely appear as a shiny speck of dust.
The object will pass without incident in front of the Earth at a distance of approximately 44 million kilometers.