There are a lot of misconceptions circulating about the comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF). Besides the usual rhetoric being created by the press, it also originates from the Northern Hemisphere. It is indeed currently bright, being at least visible in binoculars, if not naked eye. However, mid-latitude Australia will not see it until early February, rising out of the north around the end of evening twilight. If it wasn’t for the Full Moon on the 6th this would be an ideal time to observe “E3”. Fortunately, it doesn’t take long for an hour or so of dark skies to open up with the Moon rising later each day.

Having passed perihelion earlier in January it will fade as it moves away from the Sun and Earth. However, the behaviour and brightness of comets, especially post perihelion (after its closest passage to the Sun), can be unpredictable at times and well worth watching. Watch its close visit to Mars on 11th.

For those who don’t already look upon the night sky as an old friend, take the time now to become familiar with the evening northern sky. As our below diagram illustrates, this time of year presents a feast of some of the brightest stars in the heavens, including Orion with its 3 belt stars. Also, if you want to test whether your horizon is low enough to spot the comet as it makes its southerly entrance, become familiar with finding the bright star, Capella.

Further details for this comet and others, plus other highlights of the night sky can be found in the Quasar Publishing yearbook, ASTRONOMY 2023 – Australia.