From background to foreground

C/2019 Y1 (ATLAS)
gallery/c2019y1_new_cr_terkep
gallery/c2019y1atlas_20200426_cr_new_2400_an

On December 16, 2019, an unknown object with a brightness of only 17.9 magnitude was discovered by the Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System program. The comet, later named C/2019 Y1 (ATLAS), was then more than 260 million kilometers from our central star.

The comet's popularity didn't really benefit from the fact that C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS), discovered a few days later, received almost all the attention, and my own experience was that a lot of amateur astronomers mixed the two because of the one-character difference. The comet came close to the Sun on March 15, 2020, and its maximum brightness was predicted for roughly this period. More optimistic estimates predicted a maximum brightness of about 7.7 magnitude.

In early April 2020, the dice turned. The comet's "big brother" was torn to pieces by comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS), which was active at an excessively fast pace in March, and all optimistic dreams were shattered. At the time of the dreams, we even found that C/2019 Y1 (ATLAS) fell short of expectations during its perihelion in March and then, despite approaching Earth, gradually faded in the first half of April.

The celestials then served a surprise for us: in mid-April, the comet, which had hitherto been pushed into the background, produced an outburst with almost an entire magnitude brightness. I took this photo ten days after the outburst, when it was still bright enough and had a well-visible tail. 

By the way, I also used that night to capture the unfortunately very diffuse and faint comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS). Due to the uncharacteristic appearance of the coma, I decided not to publish the photo separately, but it can be viewed here for those interested.

Name:

C/2019 Y1 (ATLAS)

Constellation:

Cepheus

Coordinates:

R.A. 02 h 25 m 52 s Dec. +78° 31′ 22″

Type:

Comet

Distance from Sun: 

170 million km

Distance from Earth:

167 million km

Apparent size:

Coma: 6'; tail: 13' (PA 5°)

Brightness:

8.3m

Sidereal period:

3,408.5 years

Velocity:

39 km/s

Date:

26/04/2020 23:23-00:37 UT

Total exposure time:

1 hour

Location:

Tápióbicske, Pest, Hungary

Camera:

Canon EOS 1300D (modified)

Telescope:

Home-made 200/800 mm Newtonian reflector

Mount:

Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro GoTo

Guiding:

Lacerta MGEN-II

Corrector:

Sky-Watcher f/4 coma corrector

Focal ratio, length:

f/4, 800 mm

ISO:

3200

Light:

60 x 60 s

Dark:

20

Flat:

20

Bias:

35

Processing:

Astro Pixel Processor, PixInsight, Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop

Location

Annotation

Animation

gallery/c2019y1atlas_solars

Location in the Solar System

gallery/c2019y1_20200426_s

C/2019 y1 (ATLAS)

Main objects: C/2019 Y1 (ATLAS), TYC4499-517-1