Week 5, 2023: Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) makes its Closest Approach to Earth in 50,000 Years!
Comet ZTF as seen from Danville, California (Image credit: Bob Schiff)
On February 1, 2023 a comet known as C/2022 E3 (ZTF) passes by Earth at a distance of 42 million km, which is the comet's closest encounter with our planet in the last 50,000 years! Simulations of its orbital trajectory from JPL HORIZONS show that this will be the last time we'll ever see this comet up close as it will be ejected from the Solar System altogether and become an interstellar object in the future
Latest orbital parameters of C/2022 E3 from JPL's Small-body Database, showing a hyperbolic trajectory
Current position in the night sky as of 2022-Feb-3
It was the fifth comet discovered by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) in March 2022. According to TheSkyLive website, the comet is positioned on the constellation Camelopardis, and has an apparent magnitude of 4.00, which is barely visible in the naked eye but easily observable with small binoculars (as of 2023-Feb-3)
You can download the C/2022 E3 (ZTF) addon to see its current location in Celestia