Rare, green comet to pass by Earth starting this week

Rare, green comet to pass by Earth starting this week

If you're looking at the night skies over the next month and make out a tiny green light in the sky, don't panic, aliens haven't landed.

A rare green comet is expected to pass by Earth this week and will be visible in the night sky for nearly a month, according to NASA and astronomers.

PHOTO: This handout picture obtained from the NASA website shows the Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) that was discovered by astronomers using the wide-field survey camera at the Zwicky Transient Facility. (Dan Bartlett/NASA/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: This handout picture obtained from the NASA website shows the Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) that was discovered by astronomers using the wide-field survey camera at the Zwicky Transient Facility. (Dan Bartlett/NASA/AFP via Getty Images)

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was discovered last March when it was already inside the orbit of Jupiter. It is distinguishable by its green glow.

MORE: From stunning images from James Webb Telescope to 1st Mexican woman in space, here are the top space stories of 2022

NASA scientists said the comet is expected to make its closest approach to the sun, or perihelion, on Jan. 12, and will be visible to stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere. Those in the Southern Hemisphere should be able to view the comet in February.

"Comets are notoriously unpredictable, but if this one continues its current trend in brightness, it'll be easy to spot with binoculars, and it's just possible it could become visible to the unaided eye under dark skies," NASA wrote on its "What's Up" blog earlier this month.

PHOTO: Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) passes closest to Earth on Feb. 2, 2023. (NASA)
PHOTO: Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) passes closest to Earth on Feb. 2, 2023. (NASA)

The comet will shift to the northwest on the horizon throughout January and it will make its closest pass of Earth between Feb. 1 and Feb. 2, according to NASA. During that time, the comet will be 26 million miles away from the planet, according to astronomers.

MORE: Super blood wolf moon: Stunning photos of the rare celestial event around the globe

The comet will be close to Mars roughly a week later, according to astronomy charts.

Rare, green comet to pass by Earth starting this week originally appeared on abcnews.go.com