Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF photographed from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF from my backyard

The weather had been cloudy for nearly 3 months and I wasn’t sure if I would get an opportunity to photograph C/2022 E3 ZTF. As luck would have it though there were a couple of clear nights that emerged and I was able to take some images of it using my backyard telescope with a cooled astronomy camera. At this point it was past its peak and the long tail had diminished by this point but it was still fantastic to capture this comet as it won’t return for another 50,000 years!

Comets have fascinated humans for centuries. These celestial objects are often referred to as “dirty snowballs” because they are composed of frozen gases, dust, and rock. Every so often, a comet makes its way into our solar system, providing us with a spectacular sight. Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF is one those. 

What is a Comet?

Comets are small, icy bodies that orbit the sun. They are often referred to as “dirty snowballs” because they are composed of ice, dust, and rock. As a comet gets closer to the sun, the ice begins to melt, releasing gas and dust particles. This creates a beautiful, glowing coma and a long tail that can stretch for millions of Kilometers.

Discovering Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF

Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF was discovered in March, 2022, by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), a robotic sky survey that searches for transient and variable objects in the night sky. The ZTF is located at Palomar Observatory in California and is operated by Caltech and the University of California.

Where is Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF from?

Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF is believed to have originated from the Oort Cloud, a hypothetical cloud of small, icy objects that surrounds our solar system. The Oort Cloud is thought to be the source of long-period comets, like Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF, which take hundreds to tens of thousands of years to orbit the sun.

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Orbital Period of Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF

As mentioned earlier, Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF is a long-period comet with an estimated orbital period of 50,000 years. This means that it takes 50,000 years for the comet to complete one orbit around the sun. To put this into perspective, the last time this comet passed by Earth, Neanderthals were still roaming the planet, and the Earth was in the midst of an ice age.

The Last Time Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF Passed by Earth

The last time Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF passed by Earth was approximately 50,000 years ago, which is also the estimated length of its orbital period. This means that the comet has not been seen in recorded history, and its last appearance predates the development of human civilization.

Image technical:

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