back to article Literally, look who's back: A comet that last swung by Earth 50,000 years ago

Get a look while you can: a comet that last graced Earth's sky tens of thousands of years ago is back, and may now be visible to the naked eye – or at least those with binoculars – later this month and into February. And not only has C/2022 E3 (ZTF) been away for quite some time, it may never come this way again, astronomers …

  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    A map of where to look would have been handy

    So here's one: https://theskylive.com/c2022e3-info

    Of course, it's raining...

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: A map of where to look would have been handy

      I skipped the check for where in the sky to look and went directly to the long range rain forecast. My expectations were sufficiently low that I was not disappointed.

      1. rg287 Silver badge

        Re: A map of where to look would have been handy

        I skipped the check for where in the sky to look and went directly to the long range rain forecast. My expectations were sufficiently low that I was not disappointed.

        Apologies, 'tis all my fault.

        I had a new telescope for Christmas. Consequently January is a washout...

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: A map of where to look would have been handy

          Well it was a lovely night here last night, nice view of Mars very close to the moon, but I didn't know to look for this damn comet...

          1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

            Re: A map of where to look would have been handy

            And now that you know, you'll get a month's worth of rain

    2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: A map of where to look would have been handy

      Of course, it's raining...

      For the UK that works better without the comma.

    3. Bitsminer Silver badge

      Re: A map of where to look would have been handy

      It's raining here too.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Waiting

    I’ve been waiting to make a personal connection with an icy visitor since I married her.

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: Waiting

      Me too. After watching Halo, I wonder if she has one of those Spartan pellets in the base of her spine...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where's Bruce Willis...

    ...when you need him.

    Or Robert Duvall (aka "Fish")??

    Unless secretly, some kind "big corporation" has been building some big rockets in some back-water away from spy satellites?

    Where's Elon when you need a spare spaceship for rescue-type operations?

    1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: Where's Bruce Willis...

      Fish?

      https://static.hollywoodreporter.com/sites/default/files/2016/01/abe_vigoda.jpg

  4. Bill Gray

    Unlikely to come back

    This is an interesting case (and one I'd not noticed until reading this article; my "day job" is computing orbits for asteroids, with comets a distant second). It'll pick up just enough energy coming through the solar system to put it in a nearly-but-not-quite escape orbit by the time it leaves. Nominally, if there were no nearby stars, it would get about 9 +/- 3 light-years out, then come back... after about 200 million years.

    Since there _are_ nearby stars, it's more likely to get picked off from us by the neighbors and go into interstellar space. A few billion years from now, it could eventually be some alien's version of `Oumuamua or 2I/Borisov (the two interstellar wanderers we've seen going through our solar system; Borisov, at least, looks to be a comet that some other star system threw out).

    We've seen a few similar cases before of comets getting tossed out of the solar system. It's a little unusual, but not surprising.

    Should note that even though we have a lot of measurements of this object, I still have to say "unlikely" rather that "certain" not to come back. First, it's really right at the edge of being parabolic. Second, comets sometimes have (unpredictable) tiny trajectory changes due to eruptions from their surfaces. Not likely to matter much here, since it's big and not coming very close to the sun, but Stuff Does Happen with comets, and again, it wouldn't take much of a change near perihelion to have an outsized effect on where it eventually ends up. Somebody once wrote that comets are like cats : they both have tails and they do what they want.

    1. Claptrap314 Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Unlikely to come back

      Comments like these are what "make" these articles for me. Glad to have an expert make sense out of what sounded like another case of inane science reporting.

      Love that final comment.

      For you ------------------->

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