Comet Y4 ATLAS Breaks Up…Enter Comet F8 SWAN

Comet SWAN
Newly discovered Comet C/2020 F8 SWAN, imaged using the remote Q56 Telescope Live in Australia. Image credit: E. Guido, M. Rocchetto, and A. Valvasori.

When it comes to comets, the only thing that is certain is the orbital path. Though the cosmos has yet to send us a really bright comet for 2020 to keep us occupied during the ongoing worldwide pandemic and lock down, it has sent us a steady stream of descent binocular comets, including C/2017 T2 PanSTARRS, C/2019 Y1 ATLAS, and C/2019 Y4 ATLAS. And though Y4 ATLAS won’t match the “Comet of the Century” media hype, another interesting binocular comet has just made its presence known over the past weekend: C/2020 F8 SWAN.

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Following Comet Y1 ATLAS: the ‘Lost Comet’ of Spring

Comet Y1 ATLAS
Comet C/2019 Y1 ATLAS from February 16th. Image credit: Slooh/José J. Chambó

Got clear skies? If you’re like us, you’ve been putting the recent pandemic-induced exile to productive use, and got out under the nighttime sky. And though 2020 has yet to offer up a good bright ‘Comet of the Century’ to keep us entertained, there have been a steady stream of good binocular comets for northern hemisphere viewers, including C/2017 T2 PanSTARRS and C/2019 Y4 ATLAS. This week, I’d like to turn your attention to another good binocular comet that is currently at its peak: the ‘other’ comet ATLAS, C/2019 Y1 ATLAS.

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