Approaching comet ATLAS rapidly approaching and brightening.
Will be visible in the North by Northwest sky, close to Venus, the evening star.
ATLAS was named after the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System survey in Hawaii-- an astronomical early warning survey system designed to spot smaller, near-Earth objects a few days or weeks before they pass by Earth.
A newly-discovered comet named C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) is now crossing the orbit of Mars as it makes its way toward the Sun. The object has been brightening so rapidly since its discovery on December 28, 2019, that some astronomers believe it will be visible to the naked eye by the end of May 2020. It will pass only 0.25 AU from the Sun on May 31, 2020.
The object has a similar orbit as the Great Comet of 1844, making astronomers hypothesize that ATLAS may be a fragment of the said comet.
Since its discovery in the constellation of Ursa Major on December 28, 2019, the comet has been brightening at an almost unprecedented speed.
"Comet ATLAS continues to brighten much faster than expected," said Karl Battams of the Naval Research Lab in Washington DC. "Some predictions for its peak brightness now border on the absurd."
By March 17, ATLAS was magnitude +8.5 object -- more than 600 times brighter than what astronomers have anticipated. However, it is still invisible to the naked eye.
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Predicted path and possible appearance of comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) in May 2020 for the latitude of Brussels, at 11 pm CEST. The number indicates the day of May 2020.