A brilliant green comet has already produced some amazing imagery as it speeds toward its closest approach to Earth next month.
Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was discovered by astronomers at the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) at the Palomar Observatory in California in March 2022, when it was 399 million miles (643 million kilometers) from the sun, just inside the orbit of Jupiter. The comet's long orbital period (the amount of time it takes to complete one orbit of the sun) means that C/2022 E3 (ZTF) hasn't been seen from Earth in some 50,000 years.
As the icy wanderer approaches perigee (its closest point to Earth) on Feb. 2, astrophotographers worldwide have been capturing incredible images of the breathtaking green comet. One photo submitted by Soumyadeep Mukherjee of Kolkata, India depicts what the photographer calls "Three Days in the Life of a Comet," spanning from Dec. 27 to Dec. 29 2022.
Mukherjee captured the images using a Takahashi FSQ-106ED telescope and a FLI PL16083 camera with Astrodon LRGB Filters. Each of the three images combined to make "Three Days in the Life of a Comet" was made with three 240-second exposures. Post-processing was conducted with Pixinsight software.
The photos were taken at the IC Astronomy Observatory in Spain's Tabernas Desert, an area that "has amongst the highest number of clear nights in continental Europe," according to the observatory's website. The observatory is part of Telescope Live, a global network of robotic professional-grade telescopes that can be "rented" for remote astronomy sessions.
"The image captures the movement of Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF over three days (Dec. 27, 28, and 29 2022) in the night sky," Mukherjee told Space.com. "I'm an amateur photographer from Kolkata, India. I have been imaging objects in the sky for the last 2 years." More of Mukherjee's astrophotography can be found on Instagram.
Want to see comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) up close or take your own photos? Be sure to see our guides on the best telescopes and best binoculars that can help. While you're at it, brush up on our guides on the best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography to get the best comet photos you can.
Editor's Note: If you snap your own goregous photos of comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) and would like to share them with Space.com’s readers, send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to email@example.com.
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Brett is curious about emerging aerospace technologies, alternative launch concepts, military space developments and uncrewed aircraft systems. Brett's work has appeared on Scientific American, The War Zone, Popular Science, the History Channel, Science Discovery and more. Brett has English degrees from Clemson University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In his free time, Brett enjoys skywatching throughout the dark skies of the Appalachian mountains.