Rare comet that was last seen 50,000 years ago to fly past Earth

Rare comet that was last seen 50,000 years ago to fly past Earth

The comet will come close to Sun on January 12 and pass nearest to the Earth on February 1.

A recently discovered comet, C/2022 E3 (ZTF), will approach close to the Earth on February 1 and can be visible to the naked eye. The event is considered rare as it has not been witnessed for the past 50,000 years.

The comet was first found in March last year by astronomers through the wide-field survey camera at the Zwicky Transient Facility, NASA said. At that time, the falling star was passing through Jupiter’s orbit, and it has grown since then.

The comet will come close to Sun on January 12 and pass nearest to the Earth on February 1. It can be seen by anyone, including those who do not have a telescope, provided the sky is not too illuminated by city lights or the Moon.

Rare comet that was last seen 50,000 years ago to fly past Earth
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For those living in Northern Hemisphere, the comet will be visible in January in the early morning, while in the Southern Hemisphere, the comet will make its appearance by early February.

C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is made of ice and dust and emits a greenish aura. It is estimated to have a diameter of around a kilometre, Nicolas Biver, an astrophysicist at the Paris Observatory, told AFP news agency.

Space.com reported that the orbital period of the comet was around 50,000 years, which means that it will be making its first approach to Earth in 50,000 years next month.

It is estimated that the comet last passed Earth during the Upper Paleolithic period, when Neanderthals still roamed Earth.

It is believed that the comet may have come from the Oort Cloud, a theorised vast sphere surrounding the Solar System that is home to mysterious icy objects.

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