Comet C/2023 A3 Tsuchinshan-Atlas sneak peek

Comet C/2023 A3 Tsuchinshan-Atlas was discovered back in January 2023 and predicted to put on a spectacular show in the fall of 2024 (September-October) by brightening up to magnitude -1.

As of early June 2024, however, the comet’s brightening had virtually stalled for some reason, and predictions have since been corrected to a much lower (but still significant) peak of about mag. 2 at its nearest approach to the Earth around 12 October.

As everyone knows, the brightness of comets is very difficult to predict, and there can always be some last-minute surprises for the better or for the worse. Hope it stays like this at least.

Central Europe has been plagued by very cloudy and rainy weather since late February, so unfortunately my imaging sessions have fallen to an unprecedented record low. Despite the uncooperative weather, I managed to shoot comet C/2023 A3 on 11 June, when it was a tiny smudge in the sky shining at about mag. 11 and sporting a comma-shaped dust tail with no visible ion tail.

Acquisition details: 13x2-min subs (total 26 min) through a 10-inch RC OTA with AP 0.67 focal reducer, QHY163M camera and Optolong L filter.

Anyway, the observing conditions for this comet around its nearest approach will favor the northern hemisphere. So let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope for a good show!



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