Earth is welcomed by Comet C / 2020 R4 Atlas (Earth’s Final Warning System for Asteroid Impact), from a distance of at least 70 million km. Despite the similar name, “This is not a returning part of Comet C / 2019 Y4 Atlas”, which did not survive the near passage with the sun in Spring 2020, astrophysicist Gianluca Massey, in charge of the hypothetical telescope project.
C / 2020 R4 Atlas was detected on September 16, 2020, “Unfortunately, a comet is below the threshold for visibility with the naked eye,” Massey explains. To notice this, you need binoculars or a small telescope. The celestial body caught its attention starting in December 2020 when the astrophysicist indicated that it “showed an unexpected increase in its brightness”.
In recent weeks, after coming out of its conjunction with the sun, the comet has been closely followed by fans, thanks to its brightness. But only when, on April 23, 2021, he reached the minimum distance from Earth, Massey explains, “his observation is greatly diminished by the intense glow of our satellite, in the light of the giant moon on April 27,” when the full moon coincides with the approaching satellite from the lowest Distance from the ground.
“On these nights,” Massey added, “the comet is moving between the northern crown and the constellation Hercules.” To see them better, not always with the naked eye, he concludes, “it is better to wait in the early days of May after sunset, when the sky is dark enough.”
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