AUSTIN (KXAN) — This week is your last chance to see a green comet zip by Earth. It may not return to our solar system for another 50,000 years.
The comet, named C/2022 E3 (ZTF), hasn’t visited our solar system since the stone age. The comet will be its closest to Earth on Feb. 2, after which people in the Northern Hemisphere won’t be able to see it.
You should be able to see the comet with the naked eye, but binoculars would help. The comet can be seen near the Camelopardalis constellation north of Austin in the early morning hours.
Where can I see the green comet in Central Texas?
Central Texas has a cold week with freezing rain ahead of it but is expected to clear out by Thursday. That also happens to be your last chance to see the comet.
Where can you see it? Central Texas has plenty of great stargazing spots. According to spacetourismguide.com, there are several places you can visit that frequently host stargazing parties and have great views of the night sky.
Places within a one-hour drive of Austin:
- Blanco State Park
- Devil’s Cove at Lake Travis
- Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center
- Pedernales Falls State Park
- Granger Lake Dam and Friendship Park
Other great stargazing spots in Central Texas:
- Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
- Canyon of the Eagles Resort at Lake Buchanan
- Inks Lake State Park
As the comet nears the sun, carbon gas is released, causing it to glow green.
The comet hasn’t visited our solar system since the Upper Paleolithic era, according to an analysis of the comet’s orbit by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
There is a chance that this is the last time the comet passes through our solar system. It could break its current orbit between now and the year 52,023 CE.