New comet to decorate the Earth’s sky in September

Astronomers have discovered a previously unknown comet. In September, it will get closer to the Sun and may become visible in the Earth’s sky.

Comet C/2023 P1 (Nishimura). Source: Michael Jaeger

The new comet was found in images taken by Japanese astronomer Hideo Nishimura. After its existence was confirmed by other observers, the tailed guest received the official designation C/2023 P1 (Nishimura).

At the moment, not much is known about the newly discovered comet. But it has already managed to attract the attention of astronomers. The fact is that next month C/2023 P1 (Nishimura) will pass the perihelion of its orbit. On September 18, it will approach the Sun at a distance of 0.22 AU (32 million km). It’s closer than Mercury’s orbit.

The upcoming rendezvous will surely increase the brightness of the comet. Now its apparent stellar magnitude is 10 and C/2023 P1 (Nishimura) is not visible in the sky with the naked eye. But as it gets closer to the Sun, the brightness of the comet will increase. The exact degree will depend on the size of its core and the remaining amount of volatile substances. In the most favorable scenario, the apparent magnitude of the comet can reach 2, which is comparable to the brightness of the Polar Star. This will make it possible to observe with the naked eye.

At the same time, so far astronomers have too little data to make any accurate forecast of the comet’s brightness growth. Additional observations will help determine its characteristics and answer the question whether astronomy enthusiasts should wait for an interesting celestial spectacle in September.

Earlier we wrote about an object that could become the brightest comet of 2024.

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