A bright new comet discovered zooming toward the Sun could outshine the stars next year

A newly discovered comet may appear bright as a star in the night sky in the fall of 2024.

The comet, known as C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS), was first noted by the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) telescope project in South Africa on February 22, according to Minor Planet Center (opens in new tab). Astronomers at the Purple Mountain Observatory in China also discovered the comet independently on January 9, so both observatories are cited in the comet’s full name. Skywatchers around the world have since observed it in new and old images, with the earliest detection found in images taken by a wide-field camera on a telescope at the Palomar Observatory in California on December 12, 2022.

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