How, When and Where to See the Green Comet Before It Disappears From Sky

A magnificent green-colored comet, which came soaring past its closest approach to the Earth on Wednesday, will still be visible for a number of days.

On February 1, the comet (C/2022 E3 (ZTF)) passed Earth at a distance of roughly 26 million miles, and has been faintly visible to the naked eye for the last few weeks. The comet had been traveling towards us from the outer reaches of the solar system, and was first sighted by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) at the Palomar Observatory, near San Diego in California on March 2, 2022.

It's not too late to get a glimpse of this uniquely green comet though, as it will be visible with the unaided eye or binoculars for a few more weeks, and visible through a telescope until April.

Comet C2022/E3 ZT
Stock image of Comet C2022/E3 ZTF. The comet passed its closest point to us on February 1 and will still be visible for a number of weeks. iStock / Getty Images Plus

"The easiest way to find it will be to use a stargazing app on a smartphone, such as Stellarium," Christopher Pattison, a senior research associate with the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG) at the University of Portsmouth, in the U.K, previously told Newsweek. "Just make sure the one you use is updated to include the comet."

Comets are balls of frozen gasses, dust and rock that orbit the sun, often with enormous and strangely oval-shaped orbit paths. As they approach the sun, the solar radiation releases these frozen gasses and chunks of debris, forming the comet's tail.

The comet will slowly move across the sky of the Northern Hemisphere over the coming days.

"Observers in the Northern Hemisphere will find the comet in the morning sky, as it moves swiftly toward the northwest during January. It'll become visible in the Southern Hemisphere in early February," NASA said in a statement.

"In February, it will then be in a constellation called Camelopardalis," Pattison said.

The comet will then move into Auriga, and into the constellation Taurus. Towards the end of February, it will pass by Orion.

"[It] will likely fade below naked eye visibility by the second week of February", Robert Massey, deputy executive director of the U.K. Royal Astronomical Society, previously told Newsweek.

The moon will likely interfere with any comet viewing at the start of February, as between February 2 and 6 there will be bright moonlight for most of the night due to the full moon occurring on the 5th. After February 7, the moon will be less bright, though so will the comet as it moves farther away from the Earth.

"I would recommend the use of a finder chart to help find it with binoculars," Massey said. "Binoculars are ideal for beginners trying to find a comet as they're easy to use, whereas a telescope has a much smaller field of view. If you can see it with binoculars then try with your naked eye."

"By April it will be close to the sun in the sky and a lot fainter, so will be very hard to find even with a telescope," Massey said.

Best viewing can be achieved in areas with minimal light pollution, after allowing your eyes to adjust to the darkness for at least 15 minutes.

After February, ZTF will continue its long journey back to where it came from, at the Oort cloud at the edge of the solar system, the enormous repository of space rocks left over from the formation of the solar system around 4.6 billion years ago. This journey was its first scrape with the inner solar system for over 50,000 years, and astronomers don't expect it to return.

Do you have a tip on a science story that Newsweek should be covering? Do you have a question about comet ZTF? Let us know via