Don’t miss your chance: Tonight is the night a rare green comet will be closest to Earth
February 1, 2023, 4:09 PM HST
* Updated February 1, 10:44 PM
If you’re in a clear spot tonight after 9 p.m. and before dawn Thursday, look up and near the North Star for a chance to see a once-in-a-lifetime celestial event.
The rare green comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is making its closest flyby of Earth — about 26 million miles away, or nearly 100 times the distance between Earth and the Moon — overnight Wednesday for the first time in 50,000 years. Some reports say it could be bright enough to see with the naked eye, and definitely with a telescope or even binoculars.
Don’t miss the opportunity.
The last time the comet came to hang out in our solar system, Neanderthals and other human ancestors still roamed the Earth. If the comet makes a return visit, it won’t be for at least another 50 millennia, and some astronomers say once it leaves this time, it could be flung off its orbit and into the vast universe, never to be seen again.
‘Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo said observers can find the comet in the sky about 20 degrees away from the North Star in the faint constellation of Camelopardalis. Those trying to catch a glimpse should gaze at the dark night sky in that area for a good minute or two to have a chance to see the fuzzy green comet with the naked eye. TheSkyLive.com can help you track it.
Don’t worry if the sky where you are is overcast during this rare event. The Virtual Telescope Project will livestream the green visitor at its closest point to Earth. You can also check out the livestream of the comet on the Cosmosapiens YouTube channel (or watch it right here on Kaua’i Now below).
The comet also will continue to be visible from Earth, albeit maybe not just by looking up, for at least the next eight days before it heads off to who knows where. Check out the Farmers’ Almanac for additional details.