© Andy Roberts 1997. Pictured comet is C/1995 O1 Hale-Bopp.

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) passes perigee

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will make its closest approach to the Earth on 1 February, at a distance of of 0.28 AU.

From Fairfield on the day of perigee it will be visible all night because it is circumpolar. It will be highest in the sky at 21:42, 58° above your northern horizon. At dusk, it will become visible at around 18:16 (EDT), 50° above your northern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 05:54, 30° above your northern horizon.

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The events that comprise the 2022–2023 apparition of C/2022 E3 (ZTF) are as follows:

Date Event
12 Jan 2023Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) passes perihelion
01 Feb 2023Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) passes perigee
01 Feb 2023Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) reaches peak brightness

The table below lists the times when C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will be visible from Fairfield day-by-day through its apparition:

Date Constellation Comet visibility
11 Jan 2023Corona BorealisVisible from 01:51 until 06:05
Highest at 06:05, 64° above E horizon
13 Jan 2023BootesVisible from 01:31 until 06:04
Highest at 06:04, 67° above E horizon
15 Jan 2023BootesVisible from 01:07 until 06:04
Highest at 06:04, 69° above E horizon
17 Jan 2023BootesVisible from 00:40 until 06:03
Highest at 06:03, 71° above E horizon
19 Jan 2023BootesVisible from 00:05 until 06:02
Highest at 06:02, 72° above NE horizon
21 Jan 2023DracoVisible from 23:17 until 06:01
Highest at 06:01, 72° above NE horizon
23 Jan 2023DracoVisible from 18:06 until 06:00
Highest at 06:00, 70° above N horizon
25 Jan 2023Ursa MinorVisible from 18:07 until 06:01
Highest at 06:01, 65° above N horizon
27 Jan 2023Ursa MinorVisible all night
Highest at 05:22, 57° above N horizon
29 Jan 2023CamelopardalisVisible all night
Highest at 02:18, 51° above N horizon
31 Jan 2023CamelopardalisVisible all night
Highest at 22:15, 56° above N horizon
02 Feb 2023CamelopardalisVisible from 18:10 until 06:00
Highest at 20:48, 68° above N horizon
04 Feb 2023AurigaVisible from 18:14 until 04:13
Highest at 20:10, 79° above N horizon
06 Feb 2023AurigaVisible from 18:19 until 02:48
Highest at 19:47, 90° above N horizon
08 Feb 2023AurigaVisible from 18:24 until 01:53
Highest at 19:31, 82° above S horizon
10 Feb 2023TaurusVisible from 18:26 until 01:12
Highest at 19:18, 75° above S horizon
12 Feb 2023TaurusVisible from 18:28 until 00:39
Highest at 19:06, 69° above S horizon
14 Feb 2023TaurusVisible from 18:31 until 00:11
Highest at 18:56, 65° above S horizon
16 Feb 2023TaurusVisible from 18:33 until 23:47
Highest at 18:46, 62° above S horizon
18 Feb 2023TaurusVisible from 18:35 until 23:26
Highest at 18:37, 59° above S horizon
20 Feb 2023TaurusVisible from 18:37 until 23:06
Highest at 18:37, 56° above S horizon

A more detailed table of C/2022 E3 (ZTF)'s position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is available here.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of C/2022 E3 (ZTF) over the course of its apparition, as calculated from the orbital elements published by the Minor Planet Center (MPC). It is available for download, either on dark background, in PNG, PDF or SVG formats, or on a light background, in PNG, PDF or SVG formats. It was produced using StarCharter.

Comet brightnesses

Comets are intrinsically highly unpredictable objects, since their brightness depends on the scattering of sunlight from dust particles in the comet's coma and tail. This dust is continually streaming away from the comet's nucleus, and its density at any particular time is governed by the rate of sublimation of the ice in the comet's nucleus, as it is heated by the Sun's rays. It also depends on the amount of dust that is mixed in with that ice. This is very difficult to predict in advance, and can be highly variable even between successive apparitions of the same comet.

In consequence, while the future positions of comets are usually known with a high degree of confidence, their future brightnesses are not. For most comets, we do not publish any magnitude estimates at all. For the few comets where we do make estimates, we generally prefer the BAA's magnitude parameters to those published by the Minor Planet Center, since they are typically updated more often.

Based on the magnitude parameters published for this comet by the BAA Comet Section, we estimate that it may be around mag 5 on 1 February 2023. This estimate is based on observations that the BAA has received from amateur astronomers, assuming that its current level of activity will remain constant.

The comet's position at perigee will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude
Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) 06h37m40s 72°26'N Camelopardalis 4.7

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 1 Feb 2023

The sky on 1 February 2023
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

11-day old moon
Waxing Gibbous


11 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:39 10:21 15:03
Venus 08:16 13:41 19:07
Moon 13:12 21:16 05:22
Mars 11:59 19:37 03:15
Jupiter 09:21 15:29 21:36
Saturn 07:47 12:59 18:11
All times shown in EST.


This event was automatically generated on the basis of orbital elements published by the Minor Planet Center (MPC) , and is updated whenever new elements become available. It was last updated on 27 Apr 2024.

Image credit

© Andy Roberts 1997. Pictured comet is C/1995 O1 Hale-Bopp.





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