Rare green comet to light up the skies for first time in 50,000 years: Everything you need to know and the spiritual significance of this cosmic event

Rare green comet last passed our planet when woolly mammoths and saber toothed cats roamed and modern humans and neanderthals co-existed

Illustration of Galaxy space Background, The universe consists of stars, black hole, nebula, sprial galaxy, milky way, planet .
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As a rare green comet, that hasn't passed Earth since the Bronze Age, passes our planet tonight, it's incredible to think that the last time it passed us was thousands of years ago.

Whether you're a die-hard stargazer or simply curious about the night sky - there's no denying the prospect of a rare comet taking a twirl past our planet is always exciting. Considering it's going overhead, merely days before the cosmic drama from the Full Moon February 2023 - it's also easy to wonder if there's any spiritual meaning behind this rare green comet. 

The actual name of the green comet is Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) and according to expert astronomers, the last eyes to gaze upon it were Neanderthals. That's if they weren't too busy fending off woolly mammoths and saber-toothed cats.

Earth Sky reports that the comet's closest approach is on February 1 and 2 and that, "it’ll be in the direction of the north circumpolar constellation Camelopardalis the Giraffe." Its closest point is a stonking 27 million miles away which is more than 100 times the distance to the Moon.

Green comet astrology

The Perseid Meteor Shower, 30 second long exposure, a meteor streaks across the colorful sky during the annual Perseid shower, black pine trees shadows.

(Image credit: Gizem Gecim/Getty Images)

We reached out to expert astrologer Inbaal Honigman to enquire about the significance of the green comet in the world of astrology.

"Comets are a fascinating phenomenon and were seen in days gone by as unpredictable and sudden omens," she tells woman&home. "They were associated with war or crop failure, and even the deification of Caesar. Such a dramatic celestial burst could only bring dramatic, once-in-a-generation news."

In astrology, comets bring messages of change and even though they're no longer unpredictable, Inbaal emphasizes that they're still sudden by their very nature.

"This green comet may have a connection to Aquarius, since we are in Aquarius season, a sign linked with activism and environmental causes," she explains. "The color green is seen as signifying both nature and fresh ideas. We could be looking at fresh climate initiative, or a new announcement of environmental strife - the two often arrive hand in hand."

Why is it called a green comet?

Comet Lovejoy (Q2) 2015-01-10 - stock photo

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The green color is all down to the effect of sunlight on the comet's molecules -cyanogen and diatomic carbon. The Independent reports that diatomic carbon is a, "green, gaseous chemical with the chemical formula C=C that occurs in the carbon vapor in comets." In other words - the color isn't actually that unique.

As sunlight breaks down these molecules they turn into single carbon atoms, before they migrate into the comet's tail. This is why the green hue is only around the nucleus of the comet and the tail might well appear white.

Despite its slightly misleading name, you may not actually be able to see the verdant shade of this comet - unless you're using a telescope. Speaking to BBC News, Dr Robert Massey, deputy executive director of the Royal Astronomical Society said, "you might have seen these reports saying we're going to get this bright green object lighting up the sky," adding, "sadly, that's not going to be anything like the case."

How to see green comet

Nebulas and stars cosmic background, universe with galaxies, nebulae and stars - stock photo

(Image credit: Cobalt88/Getty Images)

In order to locate it, astronomers suggest using a stargazing app for ease, but if you're looking for a little more of a challenge there are a few tips to locate it.

First, you'll need to find the pole star - which is always located in the same place in the sky, and per BBC News, you can find it by looking, "directly north and locating a star that hangs distinctly by itself."

The best time to view the green comet will be in the early hours of Thursday morning, February 2 when the Moon has set, where it should appear to the right of the pole star.

Aoife Hanna
Junior News Editor

Aoife is an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.

Formerly woman&home's junior news editor and a contributing writer at Bustle, her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica and EVOKE.

Her poetry features in the Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.

Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, yoga studio, lifting heavy weights, or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.