Although Comet ATLAS (C / 2019 Y4) continues to dim and fragment, it was discovered that the newly discovered C / 2020 F8 (SWAN) is actively gaining brightness. Meanwhile, C / 2017 T2 (PanSTARRS) holds steady at 8th.
The nucleus of comet Atalas continues to fall apart and become more dispersed, but it still goes with a large accumulation of debris. The fragmenting pseudo-nucleus of the comet is shown in these images taken from April 6-14.
The brightest fragment located off-axis from the others may be the original core. In the last frame, the fragment is captured with a small tail of its own.
Observers can still detect a comet with 100 mm binoculars and a 150 mm telescope. On April 14, the total magnitude of the comet decreased to 9.4, but obvious changes occurred within the inner coma.
“The nuclear region is now clearly extended from east to west with hints of fuzzy condensations visible along its length, using magnification up to 300 ×,” said astronomer Bob King of Sky & Telescope.
“In the last two evenings, I was able to instantly see the brightest fragment (pictured above) along with one or two additional fuzzy stars, faint star-shaped objects that appear on the Foggy Object, in my 381 mm (15 inch) Dob at 400x,” – said King.
“I urge observers with large telescopes to look for these amazing nuggets. How often do we get the opportunity to see how a comet falls apart?”
On April 14, ATLAS measured 3 ‘across, “but when I added a swan filter that increases emissions from gas comets, the ATLAS Comet brightened against the background sky and the coma expanded to 5’,” King explained.
Meanwhile, the new comet C / 2020 F8 (SWAN) – was found by Michael Mattiazzo from Australia in images taken by the ANisotropies (SWAN) camera of the solar wind.
Currently, SWAN is on the 8th degree. It remains compact and constantly brightens as it moves through Piscis Austrinus at dawn, for observers in the Southern Hemisphere. It is expected that it will be visible to the naked eye by mid-May. On April 13, a comet with a bright, dense coma and tail was depicted.
As the comet continues to swiftly move north, it will reach a peak of magnitude 3.5 from May 15 to May 23, rushing out of the triangle through Perseus. Although SWAN is a bright comet, it will remain low in the northeast sky at the beginning of dawn for much of its appearance.
– Comet SWAN arrived just in time to strike at Atlas in the event that the comet completely decays. It even reaches a peak of brightness in the same area of the sky, “said King.
The third comet observed in the sky, C / 2017 T2 (PanSTARRS), remains stable as it moves through Camelopardalis to Ursa Major. With magnitude 8.5 it is easy to observe in the dark sky with 10×50 binoculars.
King noted that the second comet showed marked stamina. C / 2019 Y1 began as the 19th outbreak of magnitude and was discovered on December 16, 2019.
Around the beginning of March, he eventually brightened to a value of 9.5, passing by a large Pegasus square low in the western sky at dusk. Perihelion occurred on March 15th. The ATLAS Y1 is expected to depart from Cassiopeia via Kamelopard between April 15 and May 6.
“Although the Y1 atlas is expected to disappear this month, it remains stubbornly bright. I was frankly surprised when I turned my 381 mm (15 inches) sight to the comet on April 16, 12 UT,” King said.
At 64x, the comet showed a strongly condensed, 3 ‘pale green coma and a faint tail pointing north. “I could easily see it with 10×50 binoculars,” King added.
Y1 is a circumpolar object and is visible all night from mid-northern latitudes, like PanSTARRS and ATLAS Y4. It is expected that the comet will slowly fade away as it moves from Cassiopeia through Ursa Minor, passing 6.5 degrees above the North Star on May 1 and further to Ursa Major. The closest approach to Earth will occur around this month.