Comet C/2023 A3 to Light Up the Night Sky in Northern Hemisphere in 2024
Astronomers have discovered a new comet that is estimated to be visible in the night sky in the Northern Hemisphere by fall 2024. This comet, known as C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS), was first spotted by the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) telescope project in South Africa on Feb. 22, and independently by observers at Purple Mountain (Zijin Shin or Tsuchinshan) Observatory in China on images from January 9. It is estimated to have a brightness of magnitude 0.7, potentially peaking at magnitude -5, similar to Venus at its brightest.
The comet orbits the sun once every 80,660 years and will make its closest approach to the sun (its perihelion) on Sept. 28, 2024. Astronomy enthusiasts in the Northern Hemisphere may start to capture pictures of the upcoming comet beginning early June 2024, as it moves through the Virgo constellation. The comet may then become visible in amateur telescopes in June 2024, before passing between Earth and the sun on its way to perihelion. Skywatchers will likely get their best views in late October, as the comet moves through Serpens Caput and into the constellation Ophiuchus in the evening sky.
At perihelion, the comet will be low on the eastern horizon and may not be visible to many viewers on Earth. However, observers with an unobstructed view of the eastern horizon might get a view of the comet during perihelium, especially if the visitor develops an impressive tail.
0. “New comet – C/2023 A3 – could be bright in 2024” EarthSky, 3 Mar. 2023, https://earthsky.org/space/comet-c-2023-a3-sep-oct-2024-tsuchinshan-atlas/
1. “Bright new comet discovered zooming toward the sun could outshine the stars next year” Livescience.com, 4 Mar. 2023, https://www.livescience.com/bright-new-comet-discovered-zooming-toward-the-sun-could-outshine-the-stars-next-year