So Long, Comet Atlas

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Comet Atlas Isn’t Coming to Visit Next Month… Or Ever Again.

Not long ago, astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts were looking forward to seeing Comet Atlas light up the night sky as it flew past. Now, we know that’s not going to happen. The comet, officially called C/2019 Y4 Atlas, was supposed to pass by on May 31st. In the last few weeks, though, astronomers observed the comet breaking apart. And with that, the show’s canceled. According to Gianluca Masi, founder and director of the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy, “After our observations suggesting the presence of fragments in the inner coma of this comet, we imaged C/2014 Y4 Atlas every night. In particular, tonight we observed at least three fragments, telling the comet really experienced a breakup event.” This from a post on the VTP website on Sunday, April 12th. 

Masi also posted pictures of the Atlas breakup, which you can see below:

Comet Atlas Close-up April 11

Comet Atlas April 12 Breakup

The Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) discovered C/2019 Y4 Atlas just a few short months ago in December of 2019. Of course, that’s why they named it Atlas. Soon after, astronomers noticed that its brightness was increasing dramatically. In fact, it was rising by a factor of 27,500, according to Space.com. 

However, on St. Patrick’s Day, that brightness stopped increasing. Astronomers wondered why—especially since they were hoping to see a show. Now, it appears we know what happened. And with that, it’s so long, Comet Atlas. In the words of The Eagles, “You were too fast to live, too young to die, bye-bye!”

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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