Maximum magnitude 4 in February 2023
Orbital period: approx. 50,000 years
Discovered by the Zwicky Transient Facility, Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF achieved
faint naked eye visibility during January 2023.
It generated quite a bit of media attention, labelled as the "Green Comet"
on social media.
Unfortunately the information was "overhyped" resulting in a disappointed general public not being able to see the green colour.
The green coma is only visible
The close passage to the Earth, 42 million kms in early February, was very
favourable for a comet.
It appears to be of long period, not dynamically new. The orbit is inclined
nearly perpendicular to the Ecliptic.
Due to its high orbital inclination, the comet was restricted to northern
hemisphere observers during January 2023.
On January 23 , Earth crossed the comets orbital plane, resulting in an
enhanced dust tail appearing edge on.
After this date, the dust tail started to fan out and become more broader.
On January 30, the comet was within 10 degrees of the north celestial pole,
then started its southward journey.
For southern observers, it appeared over the northern evening horizon from
2023 February 5, when situated in Auriga.
On 2023 February 11, the comet was within 1 degree of Mars, situated in
Taurus. (as per above photo)
In reality, the comet was situated between Earth and Mars and still some 80
million kms from it.
The comets ion tail pointed in an easterly direction for a few degrees.
Ion tails are difficult to observe visually, due to their fluorescent blue
colour, but easy to capture photographically.
The much shorter dust tail appeared towards the north, as the dust particles
are left behind in the comets wake.
On the nights of February 15-17, the comet was within 2 degrees of Aldebaran
(Alpha Taurii) fading to magnitude 6.
On February 27, the now magnitude 7 comet was still visible in southern
Taurus, near the Eridanus-Orion border
Images in chronological order (latest at top)