Comet Tsuchinshan-ATLAS on Track to Light Up Night Sky in October!

A newly-discovered comet, named Tsuchinshan-ATLAS, is expected to pass by Earth in October, potentially becoming as brilliant as Venus in the night sky. Currently only visible through a telescope as it travels between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, experts anticipate the comet to grow brighter and develop a tail by the time it approaches Earth. This long-period comet with an 80,000-year orbit has been likened to the “Devil Comet” – 12P/Pons-Brooks.

Although the exact luminosity of the comet remains uncertain, astronomers suggest that it may be visible to the naked eye around October 10th, particularly after its closest approach to the sun. While those in the Northern Hemisphere may face challenges in spotting it due to its low position on the horizon, the comet is expected to streak across the southwest sky just after sunset.

Originating from the Oort Cloud, a region of comets encircling the solar system, Tsuchinshan-ATLAS was initially identified by astronomers at South Africa’s Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) telescope and China’s Tsuchinshan Observatory in February. As it brightens and forms a tail on its journey towards Earth, the comet presents a rare celestial spectacle that astronomers and stargazers alike are eager to witness.

With its anticipated visibility to the naked eye, the comet’s approach in October is poised to offer a remarkable astronomical event for sky watchers worldwide. While uncertainty shrouds the exact characteristics of Tsuchinshan-ATLAS as it nears Earth, the prospect of a vivid, comet-laden night sky promises a captivating sight for all those who look up in wonder.