THE Green Comet is set to appear in night skies tonight.
Full name C/2022 E3 (ZTF), stargazers are excited about the once-in-a-lifetime appearance of the comet, which was last visible during the Stone Age.
Astronomers are predicting it may be visible to the naked eye on Wednesday (February 1) night.
The comet made its closest approach to the Sun on January 12 and will be closest to Earth tonight.
How can I see the Green Comet in the south west?
From the northern hemisphere, including the UK, the comet is already visible in the night sky using a telescope or some binoculars, according to experts.
However, it has been reported the comet is visible to the naked eye against very dark skies, making it attractive to casual stargazers.
If you use a telescope or binoculars, experts at the Royal Observatory say the comet will be easily visible in the night sky from the ‘evening onwards’.
Watchers can use a stargazing app to find the exact location of the green comet in the sky, although some apps may not be updated with the comet’s location, so you may have to try a few different ones.
When it passes near Earth tonight, the green comet will be in the constellation of Camelopardalis.
After its closest approach, the green comet will move through Auriga and end up in Taurus mid-February.
The comet will dim over the month, and the time that it will be up in the sky during the night will get shorter and shorter.
“It is expected to reach a brightness magnitude of +6,” a Royal Observatory expert said.
“That would mean it would be visible to the naked eye.
“In fact, the green comet is already being reported to be brighter than +6, with some comet-spotters reportedly seeing it with the naked eye from places with very dark skies.
“It’s worth noting however that comets can be unpredictable, and it’s hard to say with accuracy how bright the comet will be or what it will look like ahead of time.
“The comet looks like a fuzzy green ball or smudge in the sky. This green glow is a result of UV radiation from the Sun lighting up the gases streaming off of the comet’s surface.”
What is the Green Comet and where did it come from?
The Royal Observatory said the comet is believed to come from the very outskirts of the solar system in the Oort Cloud, an unobserved area estimated by scientists to contain more than a trillion icy objects.
The green comet was first spotted in March 2022 at the Zwicky Transient Facility in California, which is why the acronym ZTF features in its name.