Comet Atlas C/2019 Y4

A clear Saturday night ( shame about the moon ) had me gazing at a comet, this comet was discovered by the ATLAS ( Astronomers do love their acronyms – this one stands for, Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System ) survey on December 28, 2019, and it was thought that it might reach naked eye brightness, however on around the 2nd April 2020 the comet underwent a fragmentation event, having thought to have split into at least four pieces, possibly due to outgasing causing an increase in centrifugal spin, this has caused the comet to dim considerably, however it does have a 3.3 million km long tail, more than twice the diameter of the sun.

Updating the comet elements in Cartes du Ciel ( CDC ) meant that once I had done a single star alignment and a quick plate solve of the star field, the telescope then slewed directly to the comet and put it squarely in the middle of the camera sensor, a hell of a lot easier than following a printed star chart and star hopping to the object. 

APT Comet Atlas
APT Comet Atlas

I captured 43 x 120 second exposures through the 8 inch RC and ZWO asi1600mm using a Baader 2 inch clear filter, the moon being three days from full – together with a bright sky glow did give some hard gradients, that were difficult to process out entirely.

Comet Atlas C/2019 Y4
Comet Atlas C/2019 Y4

Capturing so many images meant I could turn the images into a GIF to show the movement of the comet against the background stars. My appologies for the jump in the GIF, I had a go at tracking the comet instead of a star in PHD2 , I was hoping to get a clearer look at the tail, however the comet nucleus was too faint to keep a good lock on it, so I had to revert to star tracking. 

Comet Atlas C2019 Y4 2020-04-04
Comet Atlas C/2019 Y4 – 4th April 2020

Whether this comet holds together enough to brighten again as it approaches the sun, remains to be seen ( no pun intended ).

2 thoughts on “Comet Atlas C/2019 Y4”

  1. Glad you managed to get the comet despite your friend the mooon. Great to see the comet moving through the star field. Nice work!
    Good pun too! lol


  2. Nice images and gif. What a pity it has fragmented.

    I understand the ease of selecting in Carte du Ciel – as many do – but I would only ever slew to between one and three objects per session and I am happy to use the handbox. So my method of finding comets and asteroids is just to enter the pre-determined coordinates directly into the handbox.

    I hope you and your family members stay safe during this dreadful epidemic.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s