Newly Discovered Comet to Pass Earth in First Visit in 4.5 Billion Years
Researchers have discovered what is being called the "Comet of the Decade." The newly-discovered bright comet will be visible to the naked eye as it passes Earth next year. The comet will be so bright that it should be seen in even suburbs of larger cities.
"Comet of the Decade" Discovered
Peter Veres, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics says that C/2023 A3 could be a "comet of a decade." Naked-eye comets are typically rare, only visible roughly once in two years, but this really stands above the rest.
Veres assures people that Comet C/2023 A3 is no threat to Earth. Veres said, "We know the comet's orbit well. The orbit is becoming better and better with more and more astrometric observations incoming to our center - the MPC [Minor Planet Center]."
The first report of the new comet came on January 9, 2023 by the Purple Mountain Observatory in China. At the time, it was reported as an unknown object. Since no one else was able to observe the object n the following nights, it was removed from the confirmation page.
On January 22, 2023, the NASA-funded ATLAS South Africa telescope reported the same object. At the time, they did not know the Purple Mountain Observatory discovered it first, it was once again posted to the Near-Earth Object Confirmation Page.
The International Astronomical Union named the comet and gave credit to Purple Mountain and ATLAS. The MPC later announced the comet's orbit and designation as C/2023 A3. According to Veres, this could be the comet's first visit to the inner solar system since it was created 4.5 billion years ago and thrown into the abyss of the Oort cloud.
When Might We See Comet C/2023 A3 in the Hudson Valley?
The comet is currently between Jupiter and Saturn, and can only be spotted by large telescopes. Only a coma around the comet is visible, but once it comes closer to the sun, the sublimation of ice could lift more dust from its surface. It will be closest to the Sun late in September 2024, and two weeks later, it will reach its closest point to the Earth.