An enormous green comet called Atlas is brightening rapidly, and could become visible to the naked eye by the end of April
If you’re a fan of stargazing, make sure you keep an eye to the skies this month.
An enormous green comet is brightening rapidly, and could become visible to the naked eye by the end of April.
The comet, called Atlas, was first discovered back in December, and is roughly five times the size of Jupiter.
Writing for Space Weather Archive, astronomer Tony Phillips explained: “On the scale of big things in the solar system, Comet ATLAS falls somewhere between the sun (1,392,000 km diameter) and Jupiter (139,820 km). It’s not unusual for comets to grow so large.
“While their icy solid cores are typically mere kilometres in diameter, they can spew prodigious amounts of gas and dust into space, filling enormous volumes.”
The comet will start to become visible to the naked eye as it approaches the sun this month, although peak viewing is expected on May 31.
Atlas is currently in the boundaries of Camelopardalis the Giraffe, a dim, shapeless star pattern, and is expected to stay there this month.
Unfortunately, it remains unclear exactly how bright the comet will get.
However, experts hope that Atlas will provide a welcome distraction amid the current coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking to space.com, Carl Hergenrother, a comet observer based in Arizona, said: “It’s going to be fun the next few weeks watching Comet ATLAS develop (and provide a nice distraction from the current state of the world).
“Here’s to good health and clear skies!”