Just Minutes Away

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Behold: Comet ATLAS C/2019 Y4 – the last reported comet discovered in 2019 by the  Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System. It’s inbound, but don’t hold your breath. To wit:

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 (top image) 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. (…/) Comet ATLAS is about 9 light-minutes from Earth, still beyond the orbit of Mars. The comet’s elongated orbit is similar to 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 and may become a naked-eye comet in the coming days.

Larger view here.

(Image: Rolando Ligustri (CARA Project, CAST))

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3 thoughts on “Just Minutes Away

  1. theo kretschmar schuldorff

    Portentous comet? Check.
    Killer virus? Check.
    Pope dishing out the plenary indulgences? Check
    Where’s me seventh seal?

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