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A very bright comet is racing toward Earth again

A very bright comet is racing toward Earth again

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from: Christophe Jossmann

Newly discovered comet approaching Earth: The celestial body is likely to shine so brightly in October 2024 that it can be seen with the naked eye.

MUNICH – This is not the first time it has flown towards Earth: it is said that a very bright comet is approaching our planet, as it did 80,000 years ago. According to data from the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center, astronomers have calculated the trajectory of the celestial body. However, it is not clear whether this will actually happen: the behavior of comets can hardly be predicted.

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How bright is Comet Tsuchinshan-ATLAS? Does it shine like a flower?

Comet C/2023 A3 (or Tsuchinshan ATLAS, after where it was discovered) has been named and is traveling toward us at about 290 kilometers per hour. The comet will approach Earth in October 2024, but no collision is expected. It may fly past us at a distance of 70.5 million km. But it should be light because of Tsuchinshan-ATLAS. For comparison, comet ZTF, which is also a very bright celestial body, has recently flown close to Earth. It is estimated that Zuchinshan Atlas is about 100 times brighter. Business interested. It will radiate something like Venus. So it can be visible to the naked eye.

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) can be seen in the night sky in January and February 2023. Tsuchinshan-ATLAS could be shining brighter again. © IMAGO / La Nacion / ZUMA Press / Tizoc Suarez

However, it is not yet certain that Tsuchinshan ATLAS is actually as close to Earth as calculated. He still has a number of hurdles ahead of him on his long journey. For example, a comet – a ball of gas, ice and dust – must survive the flight next to our Sun. According to calculations, this should happen, because Tsuchinshan-ATLAS is large enough and must pass from our fixed star at a sufficient distance, that is, 57 million kilometers to be exact. According to this, it will only be possible to better assess whether Tsuchinshan-ATLAS really promises a big light show in July 2024. (cgsc)