Newfound Comet ATLAS is getting really bright, really fast

Mar 20, 2020
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This article has a very confusing organization, and buries the information that I'd think most folks would probably want to know: When it likely to be most visible?

Pulling info from several different parts deep into the article, it seems that ATLAS' closest approach to the sun will be on May 31. But while its path in March and April is "very favorable for Northern Hemisphere observers," by mid-May "it disappears into the bright evening twilight."

Bummer.

It seems that the bottom line for Northern Hemisphere folks is that "it might become faintly visible to the naked eye under dark sky conditions by mid- or late April."

After the headline, I was expecting something more interesting ... and more clearly presented.

One piece of missing information (I think; if it's there, I missed it/mea culpa) is when will ATLAS be closest to the Earth? My experience with Halley's Comet is that it was much brighter/longer when viewed from my California home in November/December 1985, when it was closest to the Earth, than when I saw it in Australia in April 1986 -- its closest approach to the sun.
 
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Mar 18, 2020
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Don't forget the Holmes comet that was being but didn't have a tail.it was naked eye and looked like a huge globular cluster guessing around 2007 it must have come along.
 
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Reactions: rod
Mar 20, 2020
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For years, amateur astronomers have been waiting for a bright, naked-eye comet to pass by Earth — and finally, such an object may have arrived.

Newfound Comet ATLAS is getting really bright, really fast : Read more
No, not again!!! I was fooled by "experts" back in 1972 (73?) with the promises of Comet Kahoutek. The biggest light show of the century fizzled out to a smeared speck of a few pixels. I agree with the other comments regarding lack of information. I get it, these wispy visitors from the dark are unpredictable. Their orbits are constantly changing as it approaches our inner system, Wouldn't it be nice once in a while to have someone write responsibly, setting appropriate expectations and not prone to overselling or dramatizing the event. Look! Over there! Is it a bird or a plane....naw just a frozen ball of dirt getting a bit steamed up.
 

rod

Oct 22, 2019
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Don't forget the Holmes comet that was being but didn't have a tail.it was naked eye and looked like a huge globular cluster guessing around 2007 it must have come along.
You are correct about 17P/Holmes. I checked my stargazing log and observed the comet on 25-Dec-2007, it was mv+5.0. " I was able to observe comet 17P/Holmes in Perseus,1 very faint with the naked eye and 10 x 50 binoculars showed a large, faint fuzz ball." My stargazing log shows I viewed a number of times after that. On 03-Jan-2008, "Tonight I observed using the 10 x 50 binoculars and the telescope. I was able to locate and observe comet 17P/Holmes in Perseus as it is approaching Algol. It is about as bright as M31 (mv +3.4) to the naked eye and using the telescope with 40-mm eyepiece for wide field view, the comet was a large fuzzy and easier to see with 10x50 binoculars. 17/P Holmes is a short period comet with about 7 year period. 17/P Holmes brightened from mv+17.0 on 10/24/07 to mv+2.5 and has been slowly fading since as it moves through Perseus."

Comet forecasting can be notoriously difficult too :)
 

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