Solar System Phenomena — Selected Comets in 2023

Comet C/2023 E3 (ZTF)

Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF in January/February 2023.

C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was discovered by astronomers Bryce Bolin and Frank Masci at the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) on 2 March 2022.

Orbital Elements Date 10 January 2023
eccentricity 1.0003
inclination 109.2°
semi-major axis −4128.1 au (hyperbolic)
period none (hyperbolic)
perihelion distance 1.1122 au
perihelion date 12 January 2023
distance from Earth at closest approach 0.2223 au
date of closest approach to Earth 1 February 2023

The Minor Planet Center (MPC) estimates that the comet may reach fifth magnitude around the time of closest approach to Earth but the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is far more pessimistic with a prediction of just eighth magnitude. The comet is in the northern sky between mid-January and mid-February, the time shown on the accompanying diagram. It passes between Hercules and Boötes in mid-January, going past the star ι Draconis (Edasich) around 25 January. It continues on through Ursa Minor, entering Camelopardalis in February. It heads south through Auriga, skimming past α Aurigae (Capella) on 7 February, η Aurigae (Almaaz) and ζ Aurigae (Saclateni) the following day, and ι Aurigae (Hassaleh) on 10 February. Moving through Taurus, the comet will be fading from view as it moves near α Tauri (Aldebaran) on 16 February.

The comet is visible to northern hemisphere observers all night in January and February. Southern hemisphere astronomers will not catch a glimpse of the comet until February when it is already dimming.


Comet ephemerides and orbital elements are provided by the IAU Minor Planet Center Minor Planet & Comet Ephemeris Service, the JPL HORIZONS System and the JPL Small-Body Database Browser with additional information from Seiichi Yoshida.