A cosmic treat: How to see green comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) in Switzerland

A cosmic treat: How to see green comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) in Switzerland

One of the stargazing highlights of the year: between January 12 and February 11, people in Switzerland will be able to look to the skies and see a bright green comet making its way through the cosmos. Here’s all you need to know about comet C / 2022 E3 (ZTF), how to see it from Swiss cities and cantons, and when it will be most visible in the night sky.

Comet C / 2022 E3 (ZTF)

Comet C / 2022 E3 (ZTF) - catchy name - was first identified in March 2022 by staff at the Zwicky Transient Facility Observatory in California. Excitingly, people in Switzerland will be able to see the comet in late January and early February, according to Timm Riesen from the University of Bern.

A comet is a small, usually icy rock or ball that orbits around a star. In the words of Riesen, "You can think of a comet as a kind of dirty snowball - a lump of dust, rock and ice" leftover from when the planets and solar system formed.

When a comet gets closer to the sun it starts to release gases which can create colourful tails in the night sky. In this comet’s case, the vapour will be greenish in colour.

How and when to see the green comet in Switzerland

Speaking to Blick, Riesen said the comet will be visible at night from January 12 to February 11, 2023, and will peak on the night of February 1 to 2 when the body is closest to earth - a mere 42 million kilometres away. "The best way to see it is with a telescope or good binoculars... however, if there is little moonlight, you might even be able to see it with the naked eye," he explained.

For the best results, people wanting to see the comet should head out of the major cities to areas with little artificial light like open fields, forests and, if you are lucky, the top of mountains. MeteoNews reports that while the weather isn’t looking too good for stargazing on January 12, there will certainly be a chance to see the comet in the weeks ahead. 

Where will Comet C / 2022 E3 (ZTF) be in the Swiss skies?

For the avid stargazers out there, according to magazine Space, the comet will emerge in the night sky travelling northwest and will first be visible in the Camelopardalis constellation - although those with less star knowledge can locate the comet by downloading a stargazing app on their mobile phones.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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