Bright Comet Erasmus

Posted: November 22, 2020 by oldbrew in Astronomy, News, solar system dynamics

Short video here.

Nov. 21, 2020: Every 2000 years, Comet Erasmus (C/2020 S3) visits the inner Solar System. News Flash: It’s back. Discovered on Sept. 17, 2020, by South African astronomer Nicolas Erasmus, the dirty snowball is plunging toward the sun for a close encounter inside the orbit of Mercury on Dec. 12th. This is what it looks like:

Gerald Rhemann took the picture Friday morning, Nov. 20th, using a 12-inch telescope in Farm Tivoli, Namibia. “The tail is magnificent,” he says. “In fact, I couldn’t fit it in a single field of view. This two-panel composite shows the first 3 degrees–and it keeps going well past the edge of the photo.”

Comet Erasmus is brightening as it approaches the sun. Right now it is 7th magnitude–an easy target for backyard telescopes. Forecasters believe it will more than triple in brightness to 5th magnitude by the time it dips inside the orbit of Mercury…

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  1. oldbrew says:

    For early birds…

    Once-in-a-Lifetime Comet Is Visible Now in Pre-Dawn Sky
    Ben Burress
    Nov 20

    How to See the Comet

    Through the end of November, comet “C/2020 S3,” or Erasmus, can be found low in the sky over the southeastern horizon in the hour or so before dawn. Though it is not very bright, and you may need a pair of binoculars to see it, you can use the bright nearby planet Venus as a guide.

    By about 5:30 a.m., Venus and Erasmus will have risen high enough above the horizon to spot, assuming there are no obstructions such as trees or buildings to your east. If you can see Venus above the skyline, then you have a shot at the comet. And Venus is hard to miss; it’s the brightest thing in the sky at this time — in fact, only the sun and moon are brighter than Venus.
    – – –
    Note — KQED is a California-based website.

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