Typically, during the course of a year about a dozen comets will come within the range of amateur telescopes. Most quietly come and go with little fanfare, but some are particularly noteworthy.
During the upcoming weeks, a newly-discovered comet will be making a relatively close approach to the Earth. On Feb. 1, comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will pass to within 28 million miles (42 million km) of our planet, its first approach in 50,000 years. While this will no doubt entice many skywatchers to attempt to view the comet, whether or not one will actually be able to see it will depend on a variety of factors including location and light pollution from both natural and artificial sources.
But don’t be dismayed! Even if you don’t have the right gear or conditions to see comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF), the Virtual Telescope Project will be hosting a free livestream of the comet beginning at 11:00 p.m. EST on Jan. 12 (0400 GMT on Jan. 13). You can watch the live webcast courtesy of the project’s website(opens in new tab) or on its YouTube channel(opens in new tab).