C/2023 A3: Comet could be visible to the naked eye in autumn 2024

After C/2022 E3 is before C/2023 A3: The newly discovered comet could become as bright in the sky as Venus in autumn 2024.

A comet discovered a few days ago is currently racing toward the sun and could become one of the brightest objects in the night sky in autumn 2024. The celestial body with the provisional name C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan–ATLAS) was discovered by two telescopes, and many other observatories have since confirmed the finding. The comet is currently somewhere between the orbits of Saturn and Jupiter, summarizes EarthSky. But in a year and a half, it will come as close to the sun as Mercury. Experts say it could then become as bright as the second-brightest star, Canopus, or even the apparent brightness of Venus if it survives the approach to the Sun.

Spotted twice

The comet was first spotted on January 9 by the Purple Mountain Observatory near the Chinese metropolis of Nanjing, according to the entry at the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center. Because no confirmation followed, the object was then removed from the database again until a South African telescope in the Atlas Network reported another find on February 22. After it became clear that it was the same comet, it was named after both observatories.

Because the structure of the celestial body is not yet known, it is not really possible to foresee how approaching the sun will affect it. At the moment, one can only speculate how bright the comet will be. However, it is already clear that it is difficult to see in the meantime, and will later appear in the morning and then in the evening sky. However, it is at least possible that the bright comet Neowise, which was clearly observable in the summer of 2020, will have a successor in C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan–ATLAS). It was also determined that it takes more than 80,000 years to orbit the sun, which is even longer than the “green comet” C/2022 E3 (ZTF).


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