Green comet 2023: How and when to see ‘once in 50,000 years’ phenomena from Bristol

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Skywatchers in Bristol are in for a treat in 2023 with the first green comet in 50,000 years set to pass Earth in just a few days’ time. The spectacular phenomena is set to soar past the planet’s outer space and could be bright enough to be seen by the naked eye.

With 2022 behind us, a new year will bring fresh opportunities to see something magical in the night sky. The icy visitor - which omits a green glow - could first be viewed on January 19 but sightings are more likely as the phenomena gets closer.

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According to NASA, the icy visitor, also known as C/2022 E3 (ZTF), was first spotted in March 2022 when it was inside Jupiter’s orbit. According to scientists, it will come closest to Earth on February 2 before hanging around our planet for around a month.

Can I see the green comet in Bristol?

According to NASA: "Comets are notoriously unpredictable, but if this one continues its current trend in brightness, it’ll be easy to spot. It’s just possible it could become visible to the unaided eye under dark skies."

A telescope is recommended for best view of the icy visitor, but even without the comet could appear as a "faint, greenish smudge in the sky," according to the Planetary Society. NASA insists that stargazers in the northern hemisphere can find the comet glowing in the morning sky as it passes Earth during January.

For the first time in 50,000 years, a green comet is expected to pass by Earth’s outer space that might just be bright enough to be seen by the naked eye.For the first time in 50,000 years, a green comet is expected to pass by Earth’s outer space that might just be bright enough to be seen by the naked eye.
For the first time in 50,000 years, a green comet is expected to pass by Earth’s outer space that might just be bright enough to be seen by the naked eye. | Pexels

However, don’t expect to be blinded by the comet as NASA says it won’t be as much of a “spectacle” as previous comets such as Comet NEOWISE. “This comet isn’t expected to be quite the spectacle that Comet NEOWISE was back in 2020. But it’s still an awesome opportunity to make a personal connection with an icy visitor from the distant outer solar system,” NASA said.

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