A ‘green’ comet will pass by Earth for the first time in 50,000 years. Here’s where and when to watch it.

A comet from the outer solar system is set to whiz to Earth on Wednesday and skygazers are getting a glimpse of the celestial object as it travels through our cosmic neighborhood for the first time in 50,000 years.

The flyby is a unique opportunity to see the “green comet”, which does not pose any risk to the planet, before it continues its distant orbit around the sun.

The comet, officially known as C/2022 E3 (ZTF), will make its closest approach to Earth on Wednesday and could be bright enough to be seen through telescopes and binoculars if conditions are clear.

At its closest approach, the comet will come within 26 million miles of the planet, according to the Adler Planetarium. The last time comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) visited Earth was in the Upper Paleolithic, during the time of the Neanderthals.

Comets can be hard to spot in the night sky, but this cosmic interloper has been steadily brightening as it moves through the inner solar system, which should help people catch a glimpse, according to NASA.

Astronomers have been tracking the comet as it approaches, and skygazers in the Northern Hemisphere have had the opportunity to spot the cosmic visitor on clear nights for most of January. The comet previously made its closest approach to the sun on January 12.

To view the comet as it approaches Earth, people in the Northern Hemisphere need to stake out a predawn spot by looking toward the northeastern horizon, according to EarthSky, a website dedicated to skywatching and astronomy. Since the moon will shine in the night sky in late January and early February, the best time to try to spot the comet will be after the moon dips below the horizon, in the pre-dawn hours.

Skygazers in the southern hemisphere probably won’t get a good view of the comet, according to EarthSky.

With binoculars, the comet can appear as a faint green glow in the sky. The emerald hue comes from the presence of carbon in the gas cloud surrounding the comet’s nucleus.

If the comet continues to brighten, it is possible to see it with the naked eye as it gets closer to Earth, although binoculars and telescopes will likely be able to spy finer details of the comet, including possibly part of its wispy tail.

However, for those who can’t see the green comet in person, the Virtual Telescope Project plans to broadcast real-time views from robot-controlled telescopes in Italy and Spain, starting Wednesday (February 1) at 11 p.m. ET. .

After this, the next opportunity to see Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will be a long, long time. This icy body has a long orbit that takes it on a journey around the sun and out of the solar system for thousands of years.

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was discovered last March by astronomers using the Zwicky Transient Facility’s Wide Field Survey Camera at the Palomar Observatory, north of San Diego.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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