How to Spot and Photograph the Green Comet That’s Passing by Earth

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) captured earlier this month by Dominique Dierick.

A stunning green comet will be visible from Earth in the coming days, even with the naked eye, giving photographers an opportunity to capture the comet that won’t appear again for another 50,000 years.

The C/2022 E3 (ZTF), to give the comet its official name, has passed the Sun and is heading out of the solar system. But before it disappears into the cosmos, it will, hopefully, shine brightly over Earth.

Astrophotographers have already been capturing the celestial rock as it steadily gains brightness which should peak on February 2 when it comes within 26.4 million miles of Earth.

Skywatchers in the United States and the rest of the northern hemisphere should be able to see it faintly using just their eyes. But don’t wait until February 2, the coming day may provide a glimpse of Comet E3.

How to Spot the Comet

Tomorrow (January 21) should present an opportunity to spot the comet because the new moon makes the sky particularly dark. The comet will be near the Draco constellation which runs between the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper.

The Draco constellation is shaped like a dragon and the comet will work its way down the tail until January 30 it will reside directly between the Big Dipper’s “cup” and Polaris, the North Star.

For a more modern approach, you can use The Sky Live website which allows you to enter your location and it will tell you the comet’s brightness, the constellation it’s located in, and even a map.

How to Photograph the Comet

Fstoppers recommends January 25 as a date to bring the astrocamera out as the Moon won’t interfere too much on that date.

As per PetaPixel’s guide on astrophotography, shooters are advised to use RAW mode, use a tripod, and a headlamp to see in the dark.

Open the aperture on your lens as wide as it will go and set your ISO according to how dark the sky is. Shutter speed is tricky because too long and you’ll get star trails, too short and it will be too dark. 15 seconds is a good time, but read PetaPixel’s guide for a more detailed explanation.