C/2023 A3 Tsuchinshan-ATLAS: el próximo cometa observable a simple vista

C/2023 A3 Tsuchinshan-ATLAS: the next comet observable with the naked eye

Comet C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS) is a new object from the Oort Cloud, discovered in early 2023. It is expected to reach its brightest point in mid-October 2024, at which time it could be visible with the naked eye from all over the world, offering an unprecedented astronomical spectacle.

This comet will reach its perihelion on September 27, with a magnitude of 0.2. On October 12, the date on which it will be closest to planet Earth, its magnitude will be -0.9. From Spain it will be visible just after perihelion. An object of magnitude 0.2 has a brightness similar to the star Rigel (Beta Orionis). Therefore, it will be visible to the naked eye.

Orbit of comet C/2023 A3 Tsuchinshan-ATLAS obtained through simulation software.

Comets are not like meteorites, contrary to what many people think, a comet appears "static" in the night sky like the planets or the Moon, while it gradually moves away from our planet until finally losing sight of it for days or months. after.

To identify it in the sky, the use of Apps is recommended. You can guide yourself through them to the comet and with binoculars or an amateur telescope you will achieve differentiated views.

You can use 10x50 binoculars for this occasion or small telescopes between 70 and 114 mm aperture.

Beginner Telescopes for Viewing Comets

For the observation of comets, telescopes with a minimum aperture of 70mm and short focal length are recommended. The apparent magnitude of the comet must always be taken into consideration to correctly calculate the equipment we should use, but in the case of comet C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS) we know that this type of telescopes are appropriate.

A telescope with an 80 mm aperture and a 400 mm focal length with a 25 mm focal length eyepiece can be an excellent instrument to take a look at the visitor to the Oort cloud. This configuration is found in the Discovery Sky Trip ST80 telescope , a compact device that is sold with a carrying backpack and mobile phone adapter.

If you prefer, you can also opt for a telescope on a mount that includes fine-moving rods. These types of mounts are more professional and it is easier to keep the kite or object in the center of your sights. You can find more information about the Omegon AC 80/400 AZ-3 starter telescope.

Finally, a highly sought-after telescope among beginners in astronomical observation are reflectors. In this case, you will need one with a large aperture and a small focal length. These parameters are found in the Bresser solarix 114/500 telescope . With an expanded kit, you will also receive a filter for solar observation. Thanks to the large field of view of this telescope, you can easily find the comet in the sky, and it also includes a support for taking photographs with your mobile phone. It is the most economical of all, but the least compact, even having that disadvantage you will have an excellent telescope to get started in deep sky observation.

These types of optical tubes are known as wide-field telescopes or comet finders. The field of view is so large that it allows you to observe huge regions in the sky. Comet hunters prefer telescopes with a shorter focal length. If spacewalks are your thing, this telescope offers you the chance to visit the famous Andromeda galaxy and many other open star clusters.

When is the best time to observe comet C/2023 A3 Tsuchinshan-ATLAS?

Comet C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS) will be at its brightest as it approaches the Sun's orbit, making it visible on the horizon just after sunset.

On October 12, when it reaches perihelion, it will be very difficult to observe it, since it will rise only 10º from the horizon and the sunlight still present will make it difficult to see.

As the days go by, the comet will rise higher on the horizon and it will be possible to begin to observe it better from October 19, when it reaches an elevation of 25º and apparent magnitude of 2.2 (dimmer than the planet Saturn).

May 2024: Comet C/2023 A3 Tsuchinshan-ATLAS observation schedule

At the time of writing this article, the comet was in the constellation of Virgo at 40º elevation above the horizon after sunset, with a magnitude of 10.56 visible only with a large aperture telescope and for experienced astrophotographers.

As the days go by, the comet will get closer to the Sun and consequently will be more visible. At the end of May it will begin to be visible with somewhat smaller amateur telescopes , the 120 mm refractors and 130 mm reflectors will already be useful instruments. People with a little more experience or patience could see it with refractors with a 70 or 80mm aperture.

On May 31 it will be observable with the help of telescopes just after sunset in a southerly direction at 45º degrees from the horizon, with an apparent magnitude of 9.95. The days are going to get longer during the month of June, so it will be very difficult starting June 30. We will have to wait until October to try to see it again.

October 2024: Comet C/2023 A3 Tsuchinshan-ATLAS calendar

The long-awaited day arrives, comet C/2023 A3 Tsuchinshan-ATLAS reaches the closest point to Earth, the comet becomes brighter, reaching a magnitude of incredible -0.9, it is a brighter shine than the star Rigel (Beta Orionis ), but to our chagrin, in Spain the sunlight will not allow us to contemplate it. C/2023 A3 Tsuchinshan-ATLAS disappears into the horizon after sunset.

In Spain we will have to wait a few more days to observe it, a good time is October 19, when after sunset the comet is visible at 25º from the horizon in a western direction. The apparent magnitude of 2.20 will make it visible to the naked eye, making it easy to find quickly for viewing with binoculars or small telescopes.

As the days go by, the comet moves away from us, but you still have more opportunities to see it. On October 26, the comet will be higher and will still be visible to the naked eye in locations with low light pollution. Locate the constellation of Ophiuchus and above it at 40º from the horizon you can find the comet just after sunset. With an apparent magnitude of 3.67, it's not too difficult to find.

November 2024: Comet C/2023 A3 Tsuchinshan-ATLAS calendar

We are saying goodbye to the comet, beginners in astronomical observation who have not seen it will have a more difficult time from now on. November 2, with an apparent magnitude of 4.91, is the last opportunity to observe it with the naked eye in skies with low light pollution.

But don't be discouraged, if you've been looking at it until now, it will be easy for you to find it and take a look at it again. Who knows, in the last few weeks you have become an expert in observation and now you are beginning to be able to take your first astrophotographs.

But if you don't understand astrophotography, but you are passionate about it and you are looking for something practical, we offer you a range of smart telescopes such as the SeeStar S50 from ZWO . This telescope takes astrophotos with a single click from your smartphone.

From this moment on you will need it because the comet is going to move away. At the end of November the comet reaches its limit magnitude of 7.77, which makes it less bright and therefore more difficult to find. Even so, if you have a small 80mm or 114mm telescope you can still observe it until mid-December 2024.

Now that you have all the information, you have to choose the date that best suits you to observe it, depending on your level of experience, the equipment you have, the weather, among other factors.

If you want to start astronomical observation now and you don't know where to start, write to us via WhatsApp or email and we will help you choose the telescope that best suits your needs.

Article written with the help of Stellarium software

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