- Comet FIVE Times the Size of Jupiter is Set to Light Up the Night Skies in April – And It Could Be Brighter Than Venus
by RYAN MORRISON FOR MAILONLINE, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/
* The comet was discovered on December 28, 2019 in the area of Ursa Major
* Its currently in Mars’ orbit but is on its way towards the Sun and getting brighter
* It was spotted by the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS)
* If it doesn’t break up it will reach its closest point to the Sun by the end of May
Atlas, a massive comet five times the size of Jupiter and about half the size of the Sun, will appear brighter than Venus from Earth by the end of April. The exact size of the rocky icy core of the strange comet isn’t known but is likely only a few miles across – but it has a much larger atmosphere. It’s currently close to Mars’ orbit but is increasing in speed as it makes its way towards the Sun and will make its closest approach to Earth in April. When it gets towards the inner solar system it will become one of the brightest objects in the night sky and potentially the ‘comet of a generation’.
Since it was first discovered in December the gaseous envelope surrounding the comet has ballooned in diameter to a staggering 447,387 miles. In contrast the Sun has a diameter of 865,370 miles, Jupiter’s diameter is 86,881 miles and the Earth is just 7,917 miles. It poses no danger to Earth as even at its closest point it will be more than 72 million miles away from our planet but will be very bright. Atlas has a tail about the same size as its atmosphere, according to Michael Jager from Austria – who captured images of the object. According to a report by SpaceWeatherArchive it isn’t unusual for a comet to grow so large as they ‘spew prodigious amounts of gas and dust into space’. ‘Comet 17P/Holmes partially exploded and, for a while, had an atmosphere even larger than the sun,’ according to the astronomy website.