Comet: C/2022 E3

Comets like C/2022 E3 are very unpredictable objects, as their brightness depends on the scattering of sunlight by particles of dust in the coma and tail. These dusts flow continuously away from the nucleus and the density is determined by the sublimation rate of ice heated by the Sun‘s rays. Therefore, while the future positions of comets are known with a high degree of confidence, their future brightness is not.

Cometary cores can vary from hundreds of meters to fifty or more kilometers and are composed of rock, dust, and water and other gases commonly found on Earth, such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, and ammonia. They are often called “dirty snowballs,” a nickname given by Fred Whipple, creator of the cometary theory. Comets also consist of a variety of organic compounds. In addition to the gases already mentioned, methanol, hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, ethanol, and ethane are present and even, perhaps, chemical compounds with more complex molecules such as long hydrocarbon chains and amino acids.

C/2022 E3 was discovered by astronomers Bryce Bolin and Frank Masci on March 2, 2022. At the time of discovery, the comet had an apparent magnitude of 17.3 and was about 640 million km from the Sun. The object was initially identified as an asteroid, but subsequent observations revealed that it had a very condensed coma, indicating that it was a comet.

Sky position

In early November 2022, the comet had brightened to magnitude 10 and appeared to be moving slowly through the constellation Corona Borealis and Serpens while moving parallel to Earth. The comet showed a green coma, a yellowish dust tail, and a faint ion tail. C/2022 E3 was visible in the early evening and began to be visible in the morning sky by the end of November. By December 19th, the comet had developed a greenish coma, a short and wide dust tail, and a long and weak ion tail that extended over a field of view of 2.5 degrees. The comet then began to move towards the north, passing through Bootes, Draco, and Ursa Minor, reaching about 10 degrees from the North Star.

On February 1st it will be visible all night because it is circumpolar. It will be highest in the sky at 21:53, 58° above the northern horizon. At sunset, it will become visible around 18:26 (CET), 49° above the northern horizon. It will be lost at dawn twilight around 06:04, 30° above the northern horizon.

Object Right AscensionDeclination Constellation Magnitude
Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF)06h38m10s72°41’NCamelopardalis5.4
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