How bright is this comet?
The brightness of comets can be unpredictable. When scientists first discovered the object last year, they only knew it was likely visible from Earth.
“Because each comet is its own organism, you don’t know how it will react until it passes by the sun,” said Dr. O’Rourke.
Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) made its closest approach to the Sun on January 12, and the comet is now shining steadily as it hurtles toward Earth. Although the comet won’t pass until February 2, it’s barely visible to the naked eye — an encouraging sign for viewing opportunities, said Mike Kelly, an astronomer at the University of Maryland and co-leader of the Solar System. Workgroup at the Zwicky Transit Facility.
However, seeing a comet can “require dark skies and an experienced observer,” said Dr. Kelly.
In addition, comets can always surprise us. Sometimes there can be a huge explosion of gas and dust, and the comet may suddenly become brighter even after it has left the Sun behind.
How do I spot a green comet?
To catch a comet, look north.
On January 21, the night of the new moon and thus the darkest sky, the comet will be close to Draco – a dragon-shaped constellation that stretches between the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper.
Over the following nights, the comet will crawl along the dragon’s tail. And on January 30, the comet will reside directly between the Big Dipper’s “cup” and Polaris, the North Star. If you used to find the North Star by following the two stars at the end of the Big Dipper’s Cup, you should be able to spot the comet. Simply erase this imaginary line until you see a faint smudge.
If you’re struggling, the comet might still be too faint or there could be a lot of light pollution. Experiment with binoculars.