A once-in-a-lifetime comet, known as Comet 2022 E3 (ZTF), was spotted from the Abu Dhabi desert at dawn on 14th January 2023, according to the International Astronomy Centre (IAC). This celestial object is passing by Earth for the first time in 50,000 years, and NASA had earlier said that the comet was expected to be closest to the sun on January 12th.
Comet 2022 E3 (ZTF) To Be Visible In February
Residents of the UAE who may have missed the sight earlier today still have the opportunity to catch it, especially when it hits its closest point to Earth on February 1st. It will be equally visible until February 5th, experts said. The CEO of Dubai Astronomy Group (DAG), Hasan Al Hariri, stated that comet brightness can be difficult to predict, but even if it does not brighten enough to be seen with the naked eye, it will still be viewable with binoculars and small telescopes around January and early February.
How To See The Comet?
For those who wish to observe the celestial body from their homes, the best tools to observe the comet are binoculars, according to Al Hariri. He stated that binoculars have a wide-angle field of view of the sky, making it much easier to hunt down the comet than using a telescope, which has a narrow-angle field of view and makes it harder to locate the comet.
The DAG will host a special ticketed event on February 4th on Al Qudra desert in Dubai from 6.30pm to 9.30pm. The event will include comet, Moon, Mars, Jupiter, and deep sky objects telescope observations, astrophotography sessions, sky mapping and more.
What Are Comets?
Comets, celestial bodies made up of frozen gases, rocks, and dust, are thought to have formed during the formation of the solar system around 4.6 billion years ago. As these comets approach the sun and are heated up, they become powerful cosmic objects, releasing gases and dust that create their recognizable shape of a glowing core and a flame-like tail that can extend for millions of miles. Not only do comets provide a spectacular visual display, but they also offer valuable information about the formation and evolution of the solar system.
Comets are named according to how and when they were originally observed. This particular comet’s name – Comet 2022 E3 (ZTF) – encodes such information:
The letter “C” in the naming of a comet indicates that it is a non-periodic comet, meaning it will only pass through the solar system once or may take more than 200 years to orbit the sun. This is different from periodic comets which have a regular orbital period and pass through the solar system multiple times. The letter “C” in the comet’s name is used to distinguish it from periodic comets and give information about its orbital path.
2022 E3 indicates that the comet was spotted in early March 2022 and was the 3rd such object discovered in the same period.
ZTF means the discovery was made using telescopes of the Zwicky Transient Facility.
So, don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness a celestial event and mark your calendars for February 1st to catch a glimpse of Comet 2022 E3 (ZTF) and if you want a more detailed look, attend the DAG’s special event on February 4th.