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C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) might become a naked-eye comet


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The rather newly discovered Comet ATLAS has been brightening faster than initially expected, and now it’s believed it could reach naked eye brightness by the end of May, possibly reaching or even exceeding the brightness of Venus. What’s more exciting is that this could FINALLY be a bright comet visible in the Northern Hemisphere, best observed in latitudes 40-60 N. There’s always a chance it could be a bust like ISON, but since we’re only two months away and not 10+, I think ATLAS has a better shot of living up to the (pretty new) hype. 
 

Here’s one of the articles published in the last few days about ATLAS’s peak and how to observe it: https://astronomy.com/news/observing/2020/03/comet-atlas-may-soon-be-visible-to-the-naked-eye

 

UPATED 4/7/20: Atlas has died of corona

Edited by ProtoJeb21
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36 minutes ago, cubinator said:

It shares an orbit with the Great Comet of 1844, which means it might be a fragment of the same original comet. 

How do we know that?

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27 minutes ago, Wjolcz said:

How do we know that?

Measurements of it's path across the sky, I suppose. It's mentioned here and here.

Here's a paper on the 1844 comet. Orbital elements are on the last page.

Edited by cubinator
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Astronomers are a bit sceptical it will live up to (our) expectations. I too am worried it started the show prematurely, and will fizzle out soon. Hopefully, there is big, rich in volatiles nucleus hiding in the coma :)

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2 hours ago, Scotius said:

Astronomers are a bit sceptical it will live up to (our) expectations. I too am worried it started the show prematurely, and will fizzle out soon. Hopefully, there is big, rich in volatiles nucleus hiding in the coma :)

After ISON, we all have a good reason to be skeptical about the next bright comet. The media ran with the “comet of the century” stuff for almost a year before perihelion, and look what happened. Predicting comets something like ten months out won’t end well. 

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12 minutes ago, 5thHorseman said:

 “Comets are like cats: they have tails, and they do precisely what they want.”

― David H. Levy, Comets: Creators and Destroyers

Yes, they come and go as they please. Annoying :D

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I think this is the comet from the latest social media conspiracy theory my wife showed me - the pandemic is just a cover to keep people quarantined and distracted so when the killer comet arrives, there is no looting in the streets before it wipes out all life on Earth.  She asked what I thought, I said it doesn't matter - either its load of BS or I won't have to worry about admitting to her I was wrong  :D

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18 minutes ago, Cavscout74 said:

She asked what I thought, I said it doesn't matter - either its load of BS or I won't have to worry about admitting to her I was wrong 

This is pretty much the same attitude I have when people tell me WWIII is close lol

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34 minutes ago, Cavscout74 said:

I think this is the comet from the latest social media conspiracy theory my wife showed me - the pandemic is just a cover to keep people quarantined and distracted so when the killer comet arrives, there is no looting in the streets before it wipes out all life on Earth.  She asked what I thought, I said it doesn't matter - either its load of BS or I won't have to worry about admitting to her I was wrong  :D

Yeah, this comet that will loop right by the Sun closer than Mercury, probably disintegrate, and then swing away in the opposite direction from Earth? Sure that's the one.

They pick up this same story on practically every little pebble that comes within 1 AU of here. It's hard to read any news article about an asteroid that isn't a forum post by an astronomer.

By the way, make sure to invest in toilet paper when Apophis comes for a visit in nine years.

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17 hours ago, Cavscout74 said:

I think this is the comet from the latest social media conspiracy theory my wife showed me - the pandemic is just a cover to keep people quarantined and distracted so when the killer comet arrives, there is no looting in the streets before it wipes out all life on Earth.

What a excrements way to prevent looting - by creating a situation in which people may turn to looting.

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1 hour ago, DDE said:

What a excrements way to prevent looting - by creating a situation in which people may turn to looting.

I never said it made sense.  If it weren't for the fact that some people will believe it, it would be funny 

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Atlas is starting to develop a tail and looking less like a fuzzy blob: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamiecartereurope/2020/04/01/a-bright-comet-with-a-tail-could-adorn-twilight-just-as-the-coronavirus-epidemic-peaks/

It’s around V=8.2 right now. If I’m correct, that’s one of the brightest comets we’ve had since PANSTARRS.

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On 3/29/2020 at 9:44 AM, ProtoJeb21 said:

After ISON, we all have a good reason to be skeptical about the next bright comet. The media ran with the “comet of the century” stuff for almost a year before perihelion, and look what happened. Predicting comets something like ten months out won’t end well. 

I'd have to claim that "comet of the [20th] century" was Shoemaker-Levy.  That said, I have vague memories of Comet Kohoutek (mostly remembering local department stores full of telescopes, plus one boring evening trying to see it) and *think* I saw Halley's comet when it swung by (it was hard to be sure which "star" was Halley's).  But Shoemaker-Levy's trajectory was already established once you heard about it (unless you are *very* well connected with comet hunters: a possibility on this forum).

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17 minutes ago, ThatGuyWithALongUsername said:

SHHHHHHH DON'T SAY ANYTHING

 

(But... given 2020's luck so far...)

It's all right, it's just undergoing mitosis so it can take Earth by storm.

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It blew up, torn apart by the inside pressure of boiling gasses. And we won't even get a neat meteor swarm to observe in coming years.

But...

Data suggest that big, bright Sungrazers come in packs. Nothing, nothing, nothing for decades - then BAM! Three bright Great Comets in a row - separated by only couple of years each. Last Great Comet was Ikeya-Seki back in 1960'ties. Four decades of nothing... Then we got McNaught and Lovejoy comets in 2007 and 2011 respectively. Who knows, maybe another Great Comet will grace our sky in a year or five? :sticktongue:

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6 minutes ago, Scotius said:

It blew up, torn apart by the inside pressure of boiling gasses. And we won't even get a neat meteor swarm to observe in coming years.

But...

Data suggest that big, bright Sungrazers come in packs. Nothing, nothing, nothing for decades - then BAM! Three bright Great Comets in a row - separated by only couple of years each. Last Great Comet was Ikeya-Seki back in 1960'ties. Four decades of nothing... Then we got McNaught and Lovejoy comets in 2007 and 2011 respectively. Who knows, maybe another Great Comet will grace our sky in a year or five? :sticktongue:

or now, or -1 years from now, maybe 19 hours? :P 

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