MOLINE, Ill. — A once-in-a-lifetime viewing event is still on track to take place in the final days of January and the first couple of days of February. A newly discovered comet, C/2022 E3 is expected to pass by Earth in the concluding days of January. While it won't light up the night sky entirely or come close to what we've seen with recent comets passing by, it will still be something to watch for, especially considering where it came from.
This comet was first sighted in March of 2022 while it was inside the orbit of Jupiter. After making its closest approach to the sun on January 12, the comet is now on schedule to make its closest approach to Earth between February 1st and 2nd. At its closest point, the distance between Earth and the comet will span 26.4 million miles!
To view the comet in the Quad Cities, you'll want to look to the northeast, towards the big dipper very early in the morning before sunrise. Of course, clear sky conditions and being away from city lights will also greatly help. Binoculars will give you a more clear view of the comet, but it should be visible to the naked eye on a clear night.
Astrophotographer Michael Jäger recently captured the green comet showing a disconnect in the tail, possibly caused by turbulent space weather. The comet's next stop will take it close to the planet Mars roughly a week after passing by Earth. The last time the comet came this close to Earth was back in the Stone Age, some 50,000 years ago, making this a once-in-a-lifetime event for all of us.
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