© Galloway Astronomy Centre 2023 All images are copyright – M Alexander unless otherwise stated
Comets in 2023
On this page are more details on each of the comets including the best dates to observe plus maps of their path
through the night sky.
Mostly comets do not show much of a tail and look like round fuzzy blobs.
In dark skies with little light pollution a 7th magnitude (mag) comet should be visible in binoculars or small
telescope. A 5th mag comet or brighter will be visible to the unaided eye.
A comet is highly unpredictable and can brighten or fade rapidly so it is worth watching it on a regular basis
The year start with 2 comets.
Comet C/2020 V2 ZTF
Discovered in 2020 the comet had it’s closest approach to Earth on 4th Jan 2023 at
a distance of about 192 million miles. It will be closer in July 2023.
I have already observed the comet in Dec when it looked like a fuzzy circular
object with a bright core. At magnitude +10.8 it was easy to see in a 10inch
Due its low brightness you will need the darkest skies to see it.
Its journey acroos the sky starts near the Pole Star heads towards Casseiopia
passing through the Zenith into Andromeda.
A nice photo op is on the 28th Jan it will be 1 deg from the Owl Cluster NGC457
The comet is at its brightest between 11th Jan and 15th Feb at +10.6
The best viewing dates are:
11th to 25th Jan - once it is dark
26th to 28th Jan - after Moonset
29th Jan to 6th Feb - Moon effected
7th Feb to 23rd Feb - once it is dark
24th to 7th Mar - Moon effected
8th to 24th Mar - once it is dark
After this the comet will be fading, but also be getting low on the western horizon.
Comet C/2022 E2 ZTF
C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is a long period comet that was discovered on 2 March 2022 by
the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF). The orbit is estimated at 50,000 years so you
will not be seeing this one again.
It is rapidly approaching Earth being only 26.5 million miles away on 3rd Feb.
Frustratingly, this is close to the Full Moon on 5th Feb.
Because of its closeness it will move at a very rapid 6 deg per day across the night sky.
Estimated to reach about +5.7 magnitude it should be easy in binoculars and just visible in dark skies.
The comet is effected by Moonlight at the start of the month. It will be rising higher each night above the North
The comet has quite a journey across the night sky -
Starting in Corona Borealis it climbs passed the Pole Star, passes Capella in Auriga on 5th Feb. On 11th Feb it is
less than 2 deg from Mars then it fades as it passes between Orion and Taurus reaching Eridanus (the River) in
mid March at a faint +10 mag.
The best viewing dates are:
14th Jan to 2nd Feb - Initially at midnight then earlier as the Moon rises later.
When the Moon appears after the 24th Jan it can be see once the Moon has set.
3rd to 6th Feb - Moon effected
7th to 24th Feb - once it is dark
8th to 24th Mar - low it the West the comet may be difficult to see as it will have faded.
After this date the Comet will be below the horizon.
Other Comets worth watching in 2023 - if predictions are right these will be visible with binoculars if not a
telecsope will be needed.
103P/Hartley - Max 7th mag. 11th to 30th Aug. 7th to 27th Sept. 10th to 27th Oct
62P/Tsuchinshan - 9th mag or brighter. 24th & 25th Nov. 7th to 24th Dec. Also in Jan 2024
“It’s the best view I’ve ever had” - Prof Ian Morison (Jodrell Bank)