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Thursday, September 14, 2023


"Bright" Comet C/2023 P1 Nishimura as seen from Australia 20 September to 20 October

Path of comet C/2023 P1 in the eastern morning sky from 20 September on. B&W chart suitable for printing. The image is at nautical twilight 60 minutes before sunrise.
Comet C/2023 P1 in the western evening sky sky on 22 September.The image is at nautical twilight (60 minutes after sunset).

 A recently discovered "bright" comet C/2023 P1Nishimura, has been putting on a nice display in the northern hemisphere's telescopes. The comet is currently too close to the sun for us in the Southern hemisphere, it will come closest to the sun (0.225 au, closer than Mercury) on 17 September and if it survives, will soon grace our skies.

 How bright it will be is an open question, it may reach magnitude 2or 3, but will be too close to the sun for us to see. In Australia (and the Southern Hemisphere generally), it is disappointingly close to the horizon, never getting particularly high at nautical twilight. 

You will need a unobstructed, level western horizon, like the ocean or the desert, in order to see it. If we are really lucky and the comet gets seriously bright, we may be able to see the head from the 18th, low above the horizon deep in civil twilight (30 minutes after sunset)   If the comet only gets reasonably bright, we may see it's tail sticking up above the horizon at nautical twilight. 

Of course, it may also fizzle completely, but until we look, we don't know. So here's hoping.

form around 4 October te comet, rapidly fading, sinks back into the twilight and is lost to view. 

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