Astronomers just discovered a comet that could be brighter than most stars when we see it next year. Or will it?

Astronomers just discovered a comet that could be brighter than most stars when we see it next year. Or will it?

Astronomers just discovered a comet that could be brighter than most stars when we see it next year. Or will it?
Comets are rarely as bright as this illustration. Credit: IgorZh/Shutterstock

Hot on the heels of the disappointing Green Comet, astronomers have just discovered a new comet with the potential to be next year’s big story—C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS).

Although it is still more than 18 months from its closest approach to Earth and the sun, comet Tsuchinshan-ATLAS already has social media buzzing, with optimistic articles being written about how it could be a spectacular sight. What’s the full story on this new icy wanderer?

Introducing comet C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS)

Every year, a few dozen new comets are discovered—dirty snowballs moving on highly elongated paths around the sun. The vast majority are far too faint to see with the unaided eye. Perhaps one comet per year will approach the edge of naked-eye visibility.

Occasionally, however, a much brighter comet will come along. Because comets are things of ephemeral and transient beauty, the

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