C/2022 E3 on approach
These comets have also caused a stir
Earth is visited by C/2022 E3. With a bit of luck, the spectacle can even be observed with the naked eye. Blick shows which other comets have been seen in the sky in recent decades.
The Last Brighter Comet: Neowise became visible in July 2020.
George NopperEditor News
Comets that are visible to the naked eye from Earth do not appear every year. Now comet C/2022 E3 (ZET) is showing up in the sky between January 12th and February 11th. This will probably be visible at least with binoculars, with a bit of luck even without. It is difficult to predict how the brightness of a comet and the size of its tail will develop. Visibility depends, among other things, on the size of the comet’s nucleus and the distances to the sun and earth.
What is certain, however, is that C/2022 E3 is one of the brighter of its kind seen recently. Blick shows which other comets have caused a stir in recent decades:
The last brighter comet was Neowise. Its official designation is C/2020 F3. Neowise appeared for several weeks from early July 2020 and was visible in the northern hemisphere even without binoculars. The comet moves in an elliptical orbit around the sun. It was closest to Earth on July 23. Its orbital period is around 4540 years.
natural spectacle: Comet Neowise seen with the naked eye(01:54)
When it was discovered in 2012, it was initially assumed that Ison (C/2012 S1um) is an asteroid. Asteroids are small planets and very large compared to comets. However, unlike comets, they do not have a tail. When the chunk was identified as a comet, expectations of it were very high: initial orbit calculations showed that it would whiz by very close to the sun in November 2013 and could develop a great deal of brightness for a short time. But Ison did not fulfill the hopes and never really made an appearance. On November 28, 2013, it decayed at what is known as perihelion, the closest point to the Sun in its orbit.
The first sensational comet of the new millennium was McNaught (C/2006 P1). In January 2007, McNaught evolved into the brightest comet of recent decades. In the northern hemisphere, it initially appeared at dawn and dusk. It was visible to the naked eye, even in daylight on January 13, 2007. But McNaught offered the real spectacle for the earthlings in the southern hemisphere: The comet developed an extremely wide-ranging and long tail before it disappeared again into the depths of the universe in the first days of February. McNaught has an estimated orbital period of 92,663 years.
Comet Hale-Bopp (C/1995 O1) was not only very bright. It was also visible for an extremely long time. Hale-Bopp was unaided observable for 18 months from the summer of 1996. This is the longest observation time ever recorded for a comet. When it passed perihelion on April 1, 1997, it was brighter than most stars. Its two tails spanned a wide angle and were visible throughout the night in the northern hemisphere. Hale-Bopp has a comparatively short orbital period of 2380 years.
Hyakutake (C/1996 B2) came particularly close to Earth and had the longest known tail. In mid-March 1997 he was still fairly unremarkable. However, as it neared the Sun and Earth, it rapidly brightened. When it was closest to the Sun on March 25, it outshined almost all other objects in the night sky. However, the comet’s great brightness lasted only a few days. Clouds also covered the night sky in many places in Europe. Hyakutake approached Earth to within 15.26 million kilometers. Its orbital period is around 108,000 years.