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New 2024 Comet May Be Extremely Bright for Washington / Oregon Coast; S. Coast Eclipse Oct

Published 03/14/23 at 5:23 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

New 2024 Comet May Be Extremely Bright for Washington / Oregon Coast; S. Coast Eclipse Oct

(Oregon Coast) – Late next year, make sure you're looking up if you're on the Oregon coast or Washington coast.

It's may be a whole year and a half away, but it's getting the kind of press attention that 2017's total eclipse received a good year or two ahead of time. Yet another reason to head to the Washington coast or Oregon coast later that year: if you want to get some exceptional comet shots by the sea. (Above: Comet Neowise on S. Oregon coast / Bandon, courtesy Manuela Durson. A detail of the full shot - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more)

Astronomers have discovered a comet that could be among the brightest we've seen in the skies of Earth. Astronomers call it C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS) or A3 for short, and the big beauty is estimated to appear to human eyes around June of 2024, but reach its brightest in September of that year.

Comet A3 will reach perihelion (closest approach to the sun) on September 28, 2024, and reach its closest path to Earth in October. Some estimates are that it could get as bright as a magnitude -5 – which is about as bright as Venus. Others say around .07, which would make it approximately the brightness of an average star in the sky.

In any case, what we'd be seeing from areas like Gold Beach, Forks or Seaside is a bright spot with a sizable tail, something the Oregon coast or Washington coastline hasn't seen since Comet Hale-Bopp in the '90s. That one shone at a magnitude -1.8.

C/2023 A3 was just discovered last month by the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) telescope in South Africa, and in January it was first spotted by Tsuchinshan Observatory in China. This is why there's the “Tsuchinshan-ATLAS” added onto the name.

Amateur astronomer Filipp Romanov caught these shots of the new visitor to our solar system back in February, showing considerable movement.

Currently, the comet is in the vicinity of Saturn's orbit.

At the moment, astronomers around the world are predicting it to whiz by closest to Earth on October 13, 2024. But the big caveat here is that there's still plenty of interstellar stuff that can alter its course between now and the fall of 2024, so revisions are likely down the road.

Along with revisions to its ETA, scientists caution there's a lot of other things that can happen to C/2023 A3 as well, like getting melted too soon and self-destructing altogether. They are made of unpredictable dust and ice, and it's entirely possible this one won't live up to expectations.

Those on the Oregon coast and Washington coast may be able to spot it using astronomy optics in that June. In August of 2024, it gets lost amid the glare of the sun, emerging in September. By that time, if we're all lucky it will be lit up by its encounter with Sol – heated and set aglow - and hopefully develops a massive tail.

The sun reflecting off the ice should even brighten it up further, say scientists. However, that still all depends if it makes it through our solar system intact.

2017 eclipse photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection

There is a jaw-dropping eclipse of the sun coming to the south Oregon coast in October. October 14 will only create these wild, exceptional sights farther south, including the towns of Corvallis, Newport, Eugene, Florence, Coos Bay and Bandon. It first comes ashore at Reedsport in the afternoon. Portland or any other town in Washington won't get to see what will be an annular solar eclipse. That means it's ring-shaped and won't be a full eclipse.

Those on the south Oregon coast will still get to see a “ring of fire,” but the world won't get dark for a minute like the 2017 eclipse.

Oregon Coast Hotels for this event - South Coast Hotels - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours



Comet Neowise taken by the ISS

Comet Neowise, Oregon Coast Beach Connection

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Coastal Spotlight

Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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