On August 11, 2023, Japanese amateur astronomer Hideo Nishimura discovered a bright object so close to the Sun that no one had ever seen it before because the object was lost in the glare of our star. It turned out to be a bright new comet! On August 15, the Minor Planet Center officially confirmed the discovery and named it Comet C/2023 P1 (Nishimura).
First of all, for those who are not familiar with the names attributed to comets, let us try to explain how they are given.
letter c Refers to a non-periodic comet. Comets of this type originate from the Oort cloud and may pass through the solar system only once or take anywhere from 200 to thousands of years to orbit the sun;
“2023 p. 1“It means that the comet was discovered in 2023, in the first half of August (this corresponds to the letter P in the IAU comet naming system, and was the first such object to be discovered in the same period).
“Nishimura” This means that the discovery was made by Hideo Nishimura, the Japanese astronomer.
Comet Nishimura reached magnitude 4.8 on September 8. This means that it is bright enough to see with the naked eye. Magnitude, in simple words, indicates the brightness of a star, the lower it is, the more noticeable it is. In general, the maximum visibility of a star is 6 degrees, which is why the comet is visible! The comet will be visible a few hours before dawn in the constellation Leo. It will become brighter over the next few days as it reaches perihelion, but it will also be closer to the Sun, making it harder to see.
As we reported on September 17, C/2023 P1 will reach its closest approach to the Sun, called perihelion. At that time, C/2023 P1 would have been as bright as 2.9 magnitude. Finally, let’s remember that there is still a possibility that the comet will disintegrate when it reaches its closest approach to the Sun, and we hope that does not happen!
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