The Cosmic Companion March 31, 2020 - What is Comet Atlas?

What is Comet Atlas? And an interview with Dr. Joe Burchett, who uses slime mold to model ribbons between galaxies.

Hello everyone!

I’m still running a day late getting things out, but here is a special edition of The Cosmic Companion newsletter, featuring a look at Comet Atlas, which could potentially become the brightest comet seen from the northern hemisphere in over two decades!

The podcast version of this week’s show also features a full interview with Dr. Joe Burchett of UC Santa Cruz, who models ribbons between galaxies using yellow slime mold. (The interview with Aerobie inventor Alan Adler, originally scheduled for this week, will be published April 14). Next week, we talk to Dr. Pedro Bernardinelli of The University of Pennsylvania, lead researcher on a study which found 316 minor planets beyond Neptune.

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Let’s take off!

Comet Atlas is heading our way, and it could become the brightest comet seen in northern skies in decades.

Comet Atlas is racing toward the inner solar system, and it could become the brightest comet seen in the night sky in over two decades. The comet, discovered by an observatory designed to protect Earth from asteroids, may even be visible during the day just two months from now.

Also known as C/2019 Y4, this comet was discovered by astronomers at the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) in Hawaii in December 2019. At the time, the comet was exceedingly dim — but the comet became 4,000 times brighter in just a month. This increase is far greater than astronomers predicted, and could potentially signal the comet may soon be exceptionally bright.

Read more:

Please watch and share the episode above, and listen to the full interview with Dr. Joe Burchett, talking about his study using yellow slime mold to model ribbons between galaxies, on the podcast version of this episode.

Cosmic Comics

Max on Mars

Science is hard. Especially on Mars. Now, try it with a cat.

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Astronomy - Don’t Leave Home Without It!

- James

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