How To Spot the Green Comet Before it’s Gone

A green comet is passing by our planet, and February 2 will be the closest we’ll be able to view the comet, unless you want to wait another 50,000 years.

With the very unsexy name Comet C/2022 E3 (Z.T.F.), the comet has a greenish glow “because ultraviolet radiation from the sun is absorbed by a molecule in the comet called diatomic carbon — that is, two carbon atoms fused together. The reaction emits green light.” 

Though February 2, 2023 will be the closest the comet will be to earth, it should be visible for a number of days afterward, and a pair of binoculars are all you will need to see it on a clear night.

At its closest, the comet will be 26.4 million miles away from our planet. That’s 110 times the distance to the moon.

Comets are sometimes described by astronomers as ‘dirty snowballs’, balls of frozen gas and dust, usually formed in the outer regions off our solar system.


“Their activity makes it look like they’re alive,” Laurence O’Rourke, an astronomer with the European Space Agency, said. “When they’re far from the sun they’re sleeping, and when they get close to the sun they wake up.”


Learn more about this comet and how best to spot it on The NY Times.