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Comet returns for the first time since Ice Age

By Lee Cleveland - January 6, 2023

According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a comet that hasn’t been seen since the Ice Age will be visible in the northern hemisphere in January and early February.

Comet 2022 E3 (ZTF) was discovered by astronomers last March and has since become bright enough to potentially be visible to the naked eye this later month.

It will make its closest approach to the Sun on Jan. 12 and will be its closest to Earth on Feb. 2.

Space.com notes that the comet was last visible to Earth some 50,000 years ago, during the Upper Paleolithic period.

“That means the last humans that could have spotted C/2022 E3 (ZTF) were early homo sapiens alive during the last glacial period or Ice Age,” according to Space.com. “So, too, could some say of the last Neanderthals, as that species became extinct around 10,000 years after the last perihelion [or orbit] of C/2022 E3 (ZTF).”