Comet ATLAS C/2019 Y4 was discovered by the NASA funded Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System, the last comet discovery reported in 2019. Now growing brighter in northern night skies, the comet’s pretty greenish coma is at the upper left of this telescopic skyview captured from a remotely operated observatory in New Mexico on March 18. At lower right are M81 and M82, well-known as large, gravitationally interacting galaxies. Seen through faint dust clouds above the Milky Way, the galaxy pair lies about 12 million light-years distant, toward the constellation Ursa Major. Inbound Comet ATLAS is about 9 light-minutes from Earth, still beyond the orbit of Mars. The comet’s elongated orbit is similar to the orbit of the Great Comet of 1844 though, a trajectory that will return this comet to the inner Solar System in about 6,000 years. Comet ATLAS will reach a perihelion or closest approach to the Sun on May 31 inside the orbit of Mercury.
But any comparison is dangerous. The 1844 comet was not discovered until shortly after perihelion, so we have no knowledge of its brightness behavior beforehand. But that information is currently all we know about ATLAS, and we won’t be able to see the object after it reaches the sun.
And let’s not forget some of the comets of the past that seemingly had “glory” written all over them, only to utterly fail to live up to expectations: Comet ISON in 2013, Comet Austin in 1990 and Comet Kohoutek in 1974
Comet ATLAS C/2019 Y4 is now crossing the orbit of Mars and has recently brightened by many magnitudes!
Comets in the historical sense have had some negative attachments pinned on them. Some in history have thought of comets as a portent of doom and gloom!
— ☆Matthijs Burgmeijer (@MMBurgmeijer) March 27, 2020
Modern science tells us a different story as we wait for what may be one of the brightest comets in the past decade.
In the most basic sense, comets are the remnants of the creation of the solar system and may have seeded the Earth with the basic components of life.
This theory, the theory of panspermia, offers up some alternative ideas.
Comets are discovered all the time and at the present time; there are many comets that astronomers have orbital data on. Here is just a small example of the comets that are within the realm of Earth.
Located high in the NE sky after sunset, Comet ATLAS C/2019 Y4 is faint binocular and telescope object at magnitude +8.2 and getting brighter by the day.
This comet has the potential to be a very bright object, when it comes within the heat of the Sun, in May of this year.
To learn more about the orbital elements and related facts about this comet, refer to this link.
There have been a few “Great Comets” in history. A “Great Comet” is one which is bright enough to be seen easily with the naked eye and with some; bright enough to be seen in daylight!
Halley’s Comet and the “Great Daylight Comet of 1910” are just a few examples of a “Great Comet”.
Some astronomers believe that the current comet; ATLAS C/2019 Y4, may actually be a chunk of the “Great Comet of 1843”.
At that time, the comet of 1843 had one of the longest tails in recorded history and came at a time, when America experienced one of the greatest depressions of all time…
This is just one example of the connection of the passage of comets and that of doom and gloom!
Timeline wise, the Great Comet came just after the last Grand Solar Minimum named The Dalton Minimum.
The Dalton Minimum was a period of low sunspot count, representing low solar activity, named after the English meteorologist John Dalton, lasting from about 1790 to 1830 or 1796 to 1820, corresponding to the period solar cycle 4 to solar cycle 7.
This new comet is coming just before the next big plunge into modern grand solar minimum, also known as the Eddy Minimum.
So….Is there a connection?
I think it is just coincidence that the appearance of bright comets is connected to economic conditions, but it makes for interesting research!
Here is the best way to locate the comet in the weeks to come and this site provides some interesting information on how to assist you in finding the new comet.
Over the next month, the comet may brighten dramatically, or fizzle out, as many have done in the past.
Comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) will come closest to Earth, on May 23rd within a distance of at least 72 million miles of Earth. That is close enough for the comet to be seen in binoculars, etc.
The final act for this comet will occur on May 31st when the comet will pass within 23 million miles of the Sun.
If the predictions are accurate, this comet may be as bright as the planet Venus in the evening sky!
What about Earthquakes?
Only time will tell!
If you miss this one, it will return in 6,000 years! Unless of course, the Sun slingshots it out of its original orbit 🙂
Let me know of your success in viewing this interesting object!
Clear skies & GOOD HEALTH!
Great comets of the past two millennia include the following:
- Unnamed – 373–372 BC
- Halley’s Comet – 87 BC
- Caesar’s Comet – 44 BC
- Halley’s Comet – 12 BC
- Halley’s Comet – 1066
- Great Comet of 1106
- Great Comet of 1264
- Great Comet of 1402
- Great Comet of 1556
- Great Comet of 1577
- Great Comet of 1618
- Great Comet of 1680
- Great Comet of 1744
- Great Comet of 1811
- Great Comet of 1819
- Great Comet of 1843
- Great Comet of 1844
- Donati’s Comet – 1858
- Great Comet of 1861
- Coggia’s Comet – 1874
- Great Comet of 1882
- Great Comet of 1901
- Great Daylight Comet of 1910
- Halley’s Comet – 1910
- Comet Skjellerup–Maristany – 1927
- Comet Arend–Roland – 1957
- Comet Seki-Lines – 1962
- Comet Ikeya–Seki – 1965
- Comet Kohoutek – 1973-74
- Comet West – 1976
- Comet Hyakutake – 1996
- Comet Hale–Bopp – 1997o the COVI
- Comet McNaught – 2007
- Comet Lovejoy – 2011
As you can see, we have endured many so ENJOY THE VIEW!!
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